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Relationships, Practices, and Images of the Local State in Rural Russia

Rebecca Kay

Keywords: local state; modes of interaction; personalized relationships; Russia; social services; state images and practices; welfare

How might relationships mediate the gap between images and practices of the local state? Drawing on an ethnography of the local state and its role in the provision of social support, this article explores the place of relationships in supporting and/or undermining the ability of local state actors to get things done and live up to the expectations of their co-villagers. The study reveals that it is often through the use of personalized relationships as a basis for flexible practices that local state actors are best able to uphold the image of a coherent and efficient state. However, the ambiguities of relationships can equally undermine attempts to maintain services, institutions, and practices that embody the state at this local level.

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