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    Babushkas: former Soviet women pensioners ageing in Russia and the UK

    Shadryna, Hanna (2020) Babushkas: former Soviet women pensioners ageing in Russia and the UK. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This qualitative study examines former Soviet women’s experiences of ageing and the production of social inequality in later life. The research is based on in-depth biographical interviews with thirty Russian women of pensionable age, twenty of whom live in Russia and ten in the United Kingdom. The study analyses how resources accumulated during the Soviet era inform individuals’ positions within the post-Soviet income-based systems of social inequality. The thesis also explores the social construction of age discrimination, and women’s strategies to negotiate the social processes of ageing.The main focus of the thesis is on women’s identity work and how it is conditioned by multiple structural and biographical transitions. These transitions include the shift from Soviet socialism to a market economy, retirement, widowhood, and migration. The thesis is concerned with the extent to which, and the reasons why, women continue working after the official pensionable age, and with understanding their role(s) as carers for their children’s children. It also addresses how they rationalise new systems of social hierarchy through their choice of group leisure activities. In addition, it analyses participants’ intimate relationships with men, particularly after widowhood or a divorce, and their gendered identities as older women. Differences in education and cultural capital, as well as the impact of welfare policy and structural discrimination in labour markets, are discussed across the samples. The study finds that Russian demographic trends, social policies, and a distinct family structure shaped a social position of the babushka, a post-professional, post-sexual subject in need of protection. The PhD argues that one way or another, in their identity work, older Russian women model themselves in relation to the symbolic figure of the babushka. The babushka is analysed as a ‘travelling’ social position, a means of rationalising age discrimination, and a source of individuals’ agency.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 11:12
    Last Modified: 15 Jun 2021 18:46
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/40471

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