The Man Question : Loves and Lives in Late 20th Century Russia

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Title: The Man Question : Loves and Lives in Late 20th Century Russia
Author: Rotkirch, Anna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Policy
Date: 2000-03-31
Language: en
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Abstract: The work analyses everyday sexuality and family life in socialist and post-socialist Russia. It is based on 47 solicited autobiographies about love and sexuality written by people in St. Petersburg in 1996 and on a representative survey of the St. Petersburg population, also from 1996. In the spirit of the extended case method elaborated by Michael Burawoy, the work extends family and feminist theories to the Soviet and post-Soviet contexts. The basic unit in the analyses of autobiographies is the triad of experience, as developed by Kirsti Määttänen on the basis of C. S. Peirce's writings. The book presents the loves and lives of three generations: the silenced generation (born 1920-44), the generation of personalization (1945-1965) and the generation of articulation (1965- ). The Russian revolution in sexual behavior is shown to have taken place in two phases: the first - behavioural and silent - in the 1970s, and the second - articulated and public - in the late 1980s and 1990s. Part I draws the typical life course of the Soviet Russian family of dual earners. The pattern dominating family life, i called extended mothering. Compared with Western models, extended mothering is less tied to biological parenthood and commercial values, but more authoritarian and family-centred. This pattern contributed to the fragility of the heterosexual tie. Russian everyday morality is seen as marked by gender conventionalism rather than, as in earlier research, gender traditionalism. Part II features case studies of Soviet sexual subcultures among the intelligentsia, workers and the working poor. Although Soviet society lacked official, discursive consent for sexual emancipation, the semi-public sphere contained various milieus that provided consent in action. From the late 1980s, these already existing subcultures provided society with a new dominant gender culture. Part III analyses the "man question" in contemporary Russia. It shows how the process of monetarization has affected family life and disrupted the typical Soviet life course. The case studies feature housewives and career women as well as impoverished or successful young men. The postsocialist transformations in gender and sexual relations have centred on men and masculinities, creating a situation of anxious masculinization. By contrast, one of the strongest continuities between socialism and post-socialism has concerned motherhood.
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