Politics and International Relations Public Lecture Series at MMU

Welfare Reform and the Third Sector in Russia and Belarus

Date: Wednesday 11th March 2020
Time: 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Location: GM 3.42, Geoffrey Manton Building, Rosamond St West, Manchester M15 6LL
Tickets: Free – Available on Eventbrite

Since the collapse of the USSR, post-Soviet countries have been following different paths of development. While some conducted radical political and economic reforms, others made only partial changes to their political and economic structures. However, in both cases there were significant changes in national welfare systems. In Russia since 2000 the welfare system has moved away from the Soviet model of heavy subsidies and broad state social provision to a more mixed model based on means-testing, privatisation and the increasing involvement of non-state actors such as NGOs and commercial enterprises in the provision of social services to different vulnerable groups. In Belarus the state has remained largely responsible for the delivery of social services as it was during the Soviet period, but quality is often poor, eligibility has been tightened since 2007 and there have been nascent attempts recently to involve NGOs in the delivery of social services. At the same time, provision of public welfare continues to be of vital importance in maintaining the legitimacy of the electoral authoritarian regimes in both countries and non-state actors working in this area may have some capacity to have input into the development of welfare policy.

I use data gathered during extensive interviews in both countries in 2015-2018 to answer the following questions: What are the recent developments (and their causes) in welfare policies in Russia and Belarus? How does the political regime in these two post-Soviet states influence opportunities for non-state actors to participate in welfare policy? What role do they play in the national policy process? Are there any windows of opportunities for the non-state actors to increase their influence on welfare policies? And, if so, what are the potential outcomes of such participation?


Eleanor joined MMU in January 2019. Prior to her current appointment she was Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. She completed her PhD in Russian and EU Politics at the University of Glasgow in 2013 and has held visiting fellowships at the University of Helsinki and New York University. Her research interests include policymaking processes in electoral authoritarian regimes, welfare reform, social policy and social rights in Russia and other post-Soviet states. She is currently working on two research projects: 1) a comparative project on social security and social service delivery in Russia and Belarus and 2) a project in collaboration with Dr Claire Pierson (University of Liverpool) exploring how authoritarian regimes use conservative family policy to achieve political outcomes.

The Politics and International Relations Public Lecture Series is sponsored by the History, Politics and Philosophy department and organized by Kathryn Starnes, Lecturer in International Relations at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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