Welcome to WGA -
Welfare, Gender and Agency in Russia in the 2000s


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 different types of civic mobilisation and ´public-civic-mix´ units: crisis centres for women, social-sector organisations and self-help organisations; the studies are supported by a national crisis centre survey. 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 liberal post-socialist welfare regime now negotiated within elites. 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 for the new period of the late 2000s 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 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-USSR-Russia and post-socialist fieldwork methodologies. In 2008-12, WGA will complete two dissertations, two post-doctoral works, two-three new anthologies and a survey report.

The WGA project has received funding from the University of Helsinki for 2008-2010.



  1. Adjunct Professor Aino Saarinen
    Adjunct Professor Olga Liapounova, Doctoral Student Irina Dracheva, Pomor State University
    Associate Professor Janet Elise Johnson, City University New York:
    The Crisis Centres for Women in Russia Today: a National Survey Study
  1. Doctoral Student Maija Jäppinen:
    Social Work Practices, Gender and Cooperation with the Service System
    in Crisis Centres for Women in Russia
  1. Doctoral Student Meri Kulmala
    Local Government and Civic Organizations Solving Problems of Local Welfare. Regional Comparisons
  1. Postdoctoral Researcher Suvi Salmenniemi
    Self-help and Conceptions of a ‘Good Life' in Finland and Russia




  • WGA website online