How do Russian communities develop social resilience to industrial risk?
Supervisor: Dr Jeremy Morris and Dr Derek Averre
Throughout its modernisation Russia drew extensively on the Western model (Kotkin, 1995; Autio-Sarasmo, 2006) that included a commitment to scientific and technological progress, secular rationalism and bureaucratic organisation (Sil, 2002; Giddens, 1991). Consequently, like Western countries Russia has also experienced the unintended risks associated with the side effects of industrial production (Gregory et al, 2004), which carry the potential for social and environmental catastrophes. The term ‘risk society’ (Beck, 1986, Virilio, 2007) was coined to draw attention to increasing social concerns and responses to these dangers and it is argued that this has resulted in a state of reflexive modernisation that focuses on preventative measures to decrease risk.
However, Russia’s specific social experience of modernity itself, and in turn industrialization, has differed significantly from that in the West and the country remains a ‘semi-peripheral’ state in the world economy (Wallerstein in So, 1990). Despite some deindustrialization since 1991, heavy industry remains a key contributor to the Russian economy and employment. Similarly, Russian responses to risk have been substantively different, since modes of self-reliance in response to inaction from the authorities (Ledeneva, 2006) leaves risk to be managed at a 'devolved' level. This observation highlights a ‘risk-experience’ in Russia that is distinct from similarly industrialized countries.
It is questionable whether concepts of risk and resilience grounded in Western experience are fully applicable to Russia, despite comparable conditions of industrial danger. In turn the specificity of ‘modernity’ in Russia may explain resilience in the social and economic context of post-socialism. This research seeks to describe and explain Russian responses (resilience) to industrial risk in the context of post-socialist change. It aims to determine how Russian attitudes and behaviour can be situated in existing sociologies of risk and determine whether these theories require re-evaluation to encompass a wider variety of reflexive experiences to modernity. The project focuses on the social consequences of risk in Russia, which, given its unique social and economic experience, may serve to empirically re-evaluate the importance of social embeddedness to theoretical notions of global ‘risk society’ (Atkinson, 2007).
Having studied politics and international relations as an undergraduate and postgraduate, I joined the Civil Service in 2007, where I worked in an analytical role on a variety of strategic policy issues.
After deciding to pursue my ambition to develop a specialism in Russian politics and society, I chose CREES for its multidisciplinary approach, longstanding and wide-ranging research and policy expertise, and gained an MA here in 2011.
Before starting doctoral research I returned to work as a lobbyist for an international communications agency between 2011 and 2012.
I was delighted to be awarded a 3 year studentship in Russian and East European Studies by the University of Birmingham ESRC Doctoral Training Centre in 2012.
BSc Politics and International Relations, incl. Peter G. Richards Prize 2004 (University of Southampton)
MSc International Relations (London School of Economics and Political Science)
MA Russian and East European Studies (University of Birmingham)
Russian modernisation, geography and history
Sociology of Russia
Sociology of risk and resilience
Science, technology and culture
Russian foreign and domestic affairs
European and UK politics