Aleksanteri Conference looks at life and death in Russia

The University of Helsinki will focus on Russian welfare and social policy between 26 and 28 October. The country’s civil society will also be viewed from new research perspectives.

Russia’s transition from a socialist system to a market economy signalled increases in poverty, social inequality and mortality. Despite the economic boom in the early 2000s, these social problems continue to be severe.

The international conference Life and Death in Russia, organised by the Aleksanteri Institute and the Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies Choices of Russian Modernisation, looks at how social policy could be used to respond to the needs of citizens and address social problems in Russia. The conference will also examine what type of social policy the country’s government is prioritising and how Russia’s demographic development and economic situation impact the structures of the welfare system.

Specific topics regarding the welfare system include the Russian education sector, the healthcare and pension system, social security as well as family and housing policy. In addition, the roundtable discussions will examine the impact of immigration on the Russian job market.

Keynote speakers include Professor Natalia Zubarevich (Moscow State University), who will talk about the regional dimension of Russian social and economic policy, and Dr Svetlana Stephenson (London Metropolitan University), who will discuss child and youth welfare as well as youth culture in Russia. Professor Göran Therborn (Cambridge University) will speak about inequality and the development of the welfare system in Russia in an international comparison. Other keynote speakers include professors Linda Cook (Brown University, USA) and Thomas Remington (Emory University, USA).

Russian civil society will be highlighted as an interesting research topic.

“Our conference provides fresh perspectives on the topic and on which elements and special characteristics make up Russian civil society and civic action. The third sector in Russia differs from those in Western countries, but this does not mean that it is nonexistent, as people in the West sometimes assume,” states Marina Khmelnitskaya, postdoctoral researcher from the Aleksanteri Institute and member of the conference’s organising committee.

This marks the 16th annual Aleksanteri Conference. This year’s theme, welfare, was selected based on the main research themes and clusters at the Centre of Excellence on Russian Studies.

Approximately 300 participants are expected for the conference, including researchers and doctoral students of social sciences, law, political studies, economics and the humanities, as well as several politicians and other decision-makers.

Media session at the University of Helsinki Think Corner on 27 October

Representatives of the media are invited to join the English-language morning coffee session at the University of Helsinki’s Think Corner on Thursday, 27 October between 9.00 and 10.00 (Aleksanterinkatu 7, Helsinki). At this session, Aleksanteri Institute researchers Marina Khmelnitskaya and Meri Kulmala will interview one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Natalia Zubarevch, on the impact of the Russian economic crisis on the country's regional and social policy. Media representatives may ask questions and conduct brief interviews after the interview. Please register for the session by 21 October 2016. The same form can be used to register as a participant in the Aleksanteri Conference – all lectures and panel discussions at the conference are open to the media.

Interview requests during the conference: Meri Kulmala:, +358 50 448 4057

Further information:

Conference programme

Keynote speakers