Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
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Eeva Korteniemi
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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2017–2018

Eleanor Bindman, University of Liverpool, UK
“Substituting for the Welfare State? Non-State Actors and Social Service Delivery in Russia”
(1–31 August 2017)

Dr. Eleanor Bindman is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool. From 2014-17 she held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and was a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester from 2013-14. She completed her PhD in Russian and EU Politics at the University of Glasgow in 2013. Before undertaking her PhD, she worked as a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Moscow and for the Open Source Centre in the UK. Her research interests include policymaking processes in electoral authoritarian regimes, social policy, social rights and welfare reform in Russia and other post-Soviet states. Her book ‘Social Rights in Russia: From Imperfect Past to Uncertain Future’ will be published by Routledge in October 2017.

Short description of ongoing research:
Dr. Bindman’s current research project aims to explore the changing nature of social service delivery in contemporary Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and subsequent radical economic and political reforms have led to major and sustained changes in the nature of welfare provision and social assistance in Russia. These changes have seen a move away from the Soviet model of heavy subsidies, broad state social provision and the promotion of social rights to a mixed but more broadly neo-liberal model based on means-testing, privatisation and increased emphasis on individual rather than state responsibility for welfare provision. A fairly recent aspect of official policy has been to involve non-state actors such as socially oriented NGOs and commercial enterprises in the direct provision of social services which have traditionally fallen within the state’s remit. As a result, the Putin and Medvedev administrations have sought to give the impression of reasserting the state’s primacy in relation to guaranteeing social rights through social service provision whilst maintaining what is in fact a mixed model of neoliberal and state-centred welfare policy, leaving Russia with a complex and frequently incoherent model of welfare provision. In addition, given continuing public expectations that the state should provide social services and the fact that more consistent and larger-scale efforts at the federal and regional level to involve socially oriented NGOs in service provision have only been in evidence since 2010, there are also questions surrounding how the use of alternative service providers has been received by those making use of such services.

All of this calls for a new conceptualisation of the emerging welfare regime in Russia that goes beyond existing ideal types of welfare state and encompasses this wider range of welfare providers and their recipients. During her time at the Aleksanteri Institute Dr. Bindman will complete a journal article for publication in a leading peer-reviewed journal based on fieldwork she has conducted on the outsourcing of social services in various locations in Russia between 2015 and 2016 and will benefit from feedback on the project from colleagues at Aleksanteri who also work on welfare-related issues.

Email: e.bindman[AT]
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala, Anna Tarasenko