From‌ ‌‘deserved‌ ‌rest’‌ ‌to‌ ‌‘survival‌ ‌time’‌ ‌-‌ ‌a‌ ‌study‌ ‌of‌ ‌nostalgia‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌2018‌ ‌pension‌ ‌reform‌ ‌protests‌‌ in‌ ‌Russia

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Title: From‌ ‌‘deserved‌ ‌rest’‌ ‌to‌ ‌‘survival‌ ‌time’‌ ‌-‌ ‌a‌ ‌study‌ ‌of‌ ‌nostalgia‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌2018‌ ‌pension‌ ‌reform‌ ‌protests‌‌ in‌ ‌Russia
Author: Taggart, Peter
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Master's Programme in Russian Studies
Master's Programme in Russian Studies
Master's Programme in Russian Studies
Specialisation: ei opintosuuntaa
no specialization
ingen studieinriktning
Abstract: This qualitative study explores the extent to which nostalgia for the Soviet era of social provision motivated Russians to protest against raising the retirement age in 2018. Social rights as formulated in the Soviet era still inform expectations of a paternalistic welfare system in Russia today, in spite of a gradual state withdrawal from the social sphere. Meanwhile, the Russian state continues to espouse a rhetorical commitment to social provision. This thesis compares local news media and Vkontakte discussions of the reforms across three Russian cities (Saint Petersburg, Togliatti and Pskov), and is guided by Zubarevich’s concept of ‘Four Russias’. This thesis argues that, for many Russians, nostalgia for the Soviet era of social provision motivated them to protest. Nostalgic sentiments varied between regions - in Saint Petersburg, many residents reflected on the Soviet past critically (reflective nostalgia), while people in Togliatti longed for the reinstitution of Soviet norms and institutions (restorative nostalgia). Little nostalgic sentiment was noted in Pskov. Fears of a diminished quality of life in retirement and mistrust of the actions of the federal administration were other motivations to protest. This thesis sheds light on the gap between social welfare provision and state rhetoric in Russia, highlights the limits of nostalgic rhetoric for political aims, and explores how expectations of the state vary between Russian regions.
Subject: social rights
pension reform
post-Soviet nostalgia
state narratives
protest in Russia
critical discourse analysis
Four Russias

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