Research Projects

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WGA Umbrella Project - Welfare, Gender and Agency in Russia in the 2000s
Printable brochure (pdf)

From the point of view of democratic theory the situation in Russia is problematic: women have many obligations but few rights and little power. The Welfare, Gender and Agency (WGA) umbrella project examines welfare and political democratisation as structures and processes and on the other hand as cultural meanings and agency, which are strongly gendered. Local and regional case studies deal with three types of civic mobilisation: crisis centres for women, social-sector organisations and self-help organisations; the studies are supported by a national crisis centre questionnaire. WGA also analyses the ongoing reformation of local and regional governance. On the national level welfare politics will be assessed along with federal policies and various indexes of the current state and changes of living conditions. Together and separately the different projects map out possibilities for survival and change and the terms and directions of the post-socialist welfare regime. The regime is approached through problems concerning both economic-social and bodily and sexual issues.

The WGA fieldwork leads to knowledge and insights from ’in-between’ and ‘inside’, in co-operation with Russian researchers. The studies challenge macrolevel analyses - provide an opportunity to deal with those ‘data deficiencies’ and theoretical ‘biases’ that produce images of Russia as ‘the other’ and suggest alternative development paths within the state historically and currently ruled by male elites.

WGA will contribute to the Aleksanteri Institute’s new research programme (2007-2013), in which it touches on sectors of both welfare and democracy. The team has close connections to numerous universities, institutes and research groups in Russia and Eastern Europe and in the West.

The plan of action in 2008 includes the Aleksanteri Conference. WGA will also arrange workshops in other contexts. It will participate in graduate and post-graduate training concerning Russia and Eastern Europe at the University of Helsinki and the Institute itself. Two anthologies will also be completed: publications on the mobilisation and organisation of women in Russia and post-socialist fieldwork methodologies.

Research team

D. Soc. Sc, Adjunct Professor Aino Saarinen (responsible director)
M. Soc. Sc, Doctoral Student Maija Jäppinen
M. A, Doctoral Student Meri Kulmala
D. Soc. Sc, Postdoctoral Researcher Suvi Salmenniemi

Contact addresses of the the projects

Aino Saarinen
University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute; aino.saarinen[at]
P.O. Box 42 (Unioninkatu 33), 00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: 358-(0)9-191 23629; Fax: 358-(0)9-191 23615

  • The Crisis Centres for Women in Russia Today: a National Questionnaire Study
    with Dr. Olga Liapounova, MA Irina Dracheva, Pomor State University
    and Ass. Prof. Janet Johnson, City University New York

Maija Jäppinen
University of Helsinki, Dept. of Social Policy and Social Work; maija.jappinen[at]
P.O. Box 18 (Snellmaninkatu 10), 00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: +358-(0)50-414 7986

  • Crisis Centres for Women in Russia – Gender, Civic Activity and Relations
    to the Public Service System 

Meri Kulmala
University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute; meri. kulmala[at]
P.O. Box 42 (Unioninkatu 33, 00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: +358 -(0)9-1911 23627; Fax: 358-(0)9-191 23615

  • Local Self-government and Social-sector Civic Organisations Solving Local Problems – Separate Encounters, Inevitable Interdependence or Partnership?

Suvi Salmenniemi
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies; suvi.salmenniemi[at]
P.O. Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 24), FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Tel. + 358 50 5226457

  • Self-help and Conceptions of a ‘Good Life’ in Finland and Russia