Social orphans and the neblagopoluchnaia family

The cycle of child displacement in the Russian north

in Sibirica
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  • 1 University of Cambridge
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Due to profound socioeconomic and political changes in post-Soviet Russia, the number of families viewed as neblagopoluchnye and 'unfit' for bringing up their children is increasing, and so is the number of children without parental care. To protect children from the harmful influence of their 'unfit' parents and to ensure a better future for them, state agents remove children from their families placing them in residential care institutions. Yet the nature of parenting in state care, the absence of inter-generational support and the lack of networks for family support and assistance render some of these young people ill equipped to deal successfully with the difficulties and uncertainties of post-Soviet social realities. Usually the state agents hold care-leavers responsible for their maladjustment and place the former residents' children in residential care institutions. This leads to the creation of whole 'dynasties' of institutionalised individuals. This article outlines some concepts and practices of child removal, demonstrating that both are still underpinned by Soviet values. Institutional experiences as narrated by former residents illustrate the genesis of difficulties in post-institutional adjustment.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies