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Caring for men in contemporary Russia

Gendered constructions of need and hybrid forms of social security

Rebecca Kay

This article explores gendered constructions of care and need and the ways in which these affect men's social security in contemporary Russia. It is suggested that gendered caring practices, besides overburdening women and devaluing their labor, also contribute to a trivialization of men's needs and their marginalization in, and/or exclusion from, complex forms of social security. Social security is understood to encompass both material and emotional support structures and networks, involving both state and nonstate actors. It is argued that hybrid forms of provision are emerging, with new actors challenging and blurring strict categorizations of state/nonstate, formal/informal, and material/ emotional in their contribution to social security. The article draws on a study of the Altai Regional Crisis Center for Men and its attempts to identify men's needs for social support, to provide appropriate forms of care, and to enhance the social security of men in the Altai Region of Western Siberia.

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Rebecca Kay

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.