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And They Lived Happily Ever After
Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe

Edited by
Helene Carlbäck, Södertörn University, Sweden
Yulia Gradskova, Södertörn University, Sweden
Zhanna Kravchenko, Södertörn University, Sweden

Takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. Focuses on the problematic domains of the institutions and laws devised to cope with family difficulties, and discusses the social strains created by the transition from communist to post-communist national systems. In addition to the substantial historic analysis, actual challenges are also discussed. The essays examine the changing gender roles, alterations in legal systems, the burdens faced by married and unmarried women who are mothers, the contrasts between government rhteoric and the implementation of policies toward marriage, children and parenthood. By addressing the specifics of welfare politics under the Communist rule and the directions of their transformation in 1990–2000s, this book contributes to the understanding of social institutions and family policies in these countries and the problems of dealing with the socialist past that this region face.

"This book is an important contribution to scholarship on family life in Russia and Central Europe. In this fine-grained study we get to know the continuities and ruptures of family life during and after socialism: how to raise children, to obtain permit for an abortion, to fight with unresponsive authorities, to get divorced and to organize self help groups. The description of different patterns, policies and practices of family life adds new elements to the history of Russia and Central Europe bringing family, demography, gender into a long awaited integrated discussion."
Andrea Pető, Central European University

"What was and what is family life in Eastern European countries and Russia? How actual patterns of reproduction, parenting, division of household labor and childcare correspond to state policies? How class and gender intersect in family ideologies, policies and practices? What are the legacies of the state socialist system in current family ideologies and policies? How social policy transformations are experienced by families in Eastern Europe and Russia? These and other related issues are discussed in this multidisciplinary collection which includes 14 chapters each written by an expert in the field.
The volume introduces comparative and gender sensitive perspective which brings the readers closer to understanding similarities and differences between family lives before and after the fall of state socialism in different countries of Eastern Europe and Russia. The diverse primary data addressed by the authors comprise legal norms and public policy regulations as well as rich in-detail personal documents and interviews. The book is not only informative and deep but also interesting to read which is not the least merit of an academic text. It makes the reader travel between different levels of analysis from family legislatures and ideologies to life stories and lived experiences of the actors."
Elena Zdravomyslova, European University at St. Petersburg


List of Abbreviations; Preface; Introduction, Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko; PART I 1940s–1980s The Family as a “Basic Unit of Socialist Society” Chapter 1. Lone Motherhood in Soviet Russia in the Mid-20th Century—In a European Context Helene Carlbäck; Chapter 2. Family, Divorce, and Comrades’ Courts: Soviet Family and Public Organizations During the Thaw, Elena Zhidkova; Chapter 3. A Life of Labor, a Life of Love: Telling the Life of a Young Peasant Mother Facing Collectivization, Ildikó Morell Asztalos; Chapter 4. East German Women Going West: Family, Children and Partners in Life-Experience Literature, Christine Farhan; Chapter 5. Why Does Public Policy Implementation Fail? Lithuanian Office of State Benefits for Mothers of Large Families and Single Mothers, 1944–1956, Dalia Leinarte; Chapter 6. The Latvian Family Experience with Sovietization 1945–1990, Majia Runcis; PART II 1990s–2000s Social Transformation in the Mirror of Family Life Chapter 7. “Two children Puts You in the Zone of Social Misery”: Childbearing and Risk Perception among Russian Women, Anna Rotkirch and Katja Kesseli; Chapter 8. “Supporting Genuine Development of the Child.” Public Childcare Centers Versus Family in Post-Soviet Russia, Yulia Gradskova; Chapter 9. Everyday Continuity and Change: Family and Family Policy in Russia, Zhanna Kravchenko; Chapter 10. Single Mothers—Clients or Citizens? Social Work with Poor Families in Russia, Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova and Pavel Romanov; Chapter 11. Welfare Crisis and Crisis-Centers in Russia Today, Aino Saarinen; Chapter 12. Marriage and Divorce Law in Russia and the Baltic States: Overview of Recent Changes, Olga A. Khazova; Chapter 13. Doing Parenting in Post-Socialist Estonia and Latvia, Ingegerd Municio-Larsson; Chapter 14. Gendered Experiences in Entrepreneurship, Family and Social Activities in Russia, Ann-Mari Sätre; Notes on Contributors; Index

336 pages
978-615-5053-57-3 cloth $55.00 / €50.00 / £45.00

"The essays by Leinarte and Runcis off er valuable insights about the intersection of gender and nationality; Carlbäck’s, Munico-Larsson’s, and Sätre’s chapters contribute to the growing scholarship on Soviet and post-Soviet masculinity; and the essays by Carlbäck, Zhidkova, and Leinarte speak to the current historiographical interest in the ambiguous nature of the thaw. Many of the essays explore notions of agency by offering compelling examples of how people without much power manage to formulate coping strategies (see the chapters by Asztalos Morell, Farhan, Gradskova, and Kravchenko). Finally, essays by Gradskova, Khazova, Kravchenko, Rotkirch and Kesseli, and Iarskaia-Smirnova and Romanov demonstrate the ways in which gender complicates our understanding of post-Soviet politics and society". - Slavic Review