Michael Rasell

Citizenship, well-being and disability policy in Russia

Supervisors: Julian Cooper and Deema Kaneff

Michael’s PhD looks at how welfare policy affects the everyday life and well-being of physically disabled people in Russia.  He is especially interested in how controversial social reforms under Vladimir Putin have concretely affected people with disabilities.  Michael has spent a total of fourteen months in Russia for research visits and fieldwork, based mainly in the central city of Kazan. His qualitative approach saw him conduct in-depth interviews with disabled people, visit medical and social services centres and work in local newspaper archives. He aims to give a bottom-up, people-centred account of the Russian welfare state that draws on concrete voices and experiences.

Michael gained a first-class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University and completed a MA in Politics at Central European University, Budapest.  He came to CREES in 2005 with an ESRC 1+3 scholarship that allowed him to learn Russian from scratch and develop a strong grounding in qualitative research on Russian society.  Supported by the University of Birmingham’s Universitas 21 scholarship scheme, Michael spent February 2007 at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney.  He has contributed to undergraduate teaching in cultural studies at Birmingham and was a guest lecturer on the MA course ‘Welfare, Gender and Agency’ at the Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki in January 2009. 

Michael has published on welfare reform in Russia and is currently editing a volume of work entitled Experiences of Disability in Russia and Eastern Europe. He plans to continue his research on social issues in Russia with studies of dementia care and fostering practices.  These interests fit well with his present job as co-ordinator of the European Commission project ‘Modernising Social Work Education and Teaching in Russia’ (2009-12). 

Conference Papers and Presentations

‘Bridging the policy-practice gap: including users in the development and evaluation of welfare services in Russia.’ International Conference ‘Challenges, Dynamics and Implications of Welfare Regime Change in Comparative Perspective,’ Munk Centre, University of Toronto, 6-7 February 2009

‘“The state does not love disabled people:” experiences of the welfare system in contemporary Russia.’  Annual Aleksanteri Conference ‘Welfare, Gender and Agency in Russia and Eastern Europe,’ University of Helsinki, 10-12 December 2008

‘Disability Law and Policy,’ Annual BEARR Conference ‘Changing Attitudes to Disability in Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia,’ London, 21 November 2008.

‘Child Disability and Social Exclusion in Russia and Post-Soviet Countries.’  Childwatch International Workshop ‘Impact of Poverty and Social Exclusion on Children’s Lives and their Well-Being,’ Institute of Labour and Family Research, Bratislava, 8-9 September 2009

‘“Why do you need a qualification?” The education and employment experiences of disabled people in Russia.’  Disability Studies Conference, Lancaster University, 2-4 September 2009

‘Separation, society and the state: Living with disabilities in Russia.’  Third Postgraduate Conference, Social Policy Association, University of Edinburgh, 26 June 2008

‘Politics, poverty and privileges: the Ukrainian welfare state in comparative perspective.’ Ukraine Studies Symposium, University of Toronto, 24-26 January 2008


M. Rasell (2008a) ‘The Monetisation of L’goty: Changing Patterns of Welfare Politics and Provision in Russia.’ Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 60, No. 5, pp. 739-756 [with Susanne Wengle]

M. Rasell (2008b) ‘Reforming the L’goty System: The Future of In-kind Benefits in Post-Soviet Russia’ Russian Analytical Digest, No. 37, pp. 6-9 [with Susanne Wengle]


Email: mir471@bham.ac.uk