Struggling without success? Russian civil society caught between international and domestic demands - the example of aid for disabled people
Institut for Cultural Studies Leipzig University Leipzig, Germany
Thematic Section III. Public Sociology in a Civil Environment in Russia
In the course of the social transformation in the 1990s the Russian social security system faced rapid change by declining financial/structural resources and the social situation of especially handicapped people became even more precarious.
In a theoretical perspective the World Policy Theory suggests an international adaption of paradigms of the societal organization, especially in transforming societies. The pressure of the world community on the salvation of national problematic issues should cause improvement for the integration of the disabled from upside down. Since Perestroika international donors and global civil society organizations seek for Russian non-governmental partners to initiate sustainable change in Russian social welfare. But empirical findings show gaps between them in paradigms and values with regard to disabled people and their position in society. On the one hand that leads to ineffective project development. On the other hand international donors choose partners who are already close to their own values and in that way fail to initiate sustainable change.
On the other hand Russian NGOs face normative and structural barriers set by public actors and organizations against their integration measures, because they question the way disabled are officially threatened in society. This is all the more striking because Russian NGOs often fail to connect their concerns with themes and values which are commonly shared by all societal groups.
With the help of empirical finding from in-depth-interviews with actors in international, Russian NGOs and public organizations the paper shows why Russian civil society organizations in the field of disability aid fail to initiate and form social movement activities which would aim on overall societal change. Striving for financial support and legitimization by public and international authorities, Russian NGOs are set in a situation of competition which leads to separation and dissociation.