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Regional Social Policy: Actors and Motivation

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 09-01-2012
Мир России. 2011.  Т. 20. № 4. С. 89-111. 
Тематический раздел:
The research focuses on the motivation of actors that interact in the sphere of social policy in Russian regions. The evaluation of such motivation and resource capacities of various groups of regional elites are analyzed through the data from in-depth interviews conducted by the author in 2006-2010. Key actors of regional executive and legislative bodies, business-elite and regional experts are interviewed. Based on the research the author concludes: regional elites in Russia lack the motivational resources to provide a successful modernization breakthrough in the field of social policy. This conclusion to a certain extent contradicts the widespread point of view among the experts (E. Gontmakher, Y. Kouzminov, T. Maleva, etc.), according to whom the changes in social policy are possible if the relevant institutions are to be correspondingly optimized. This is true, of course, but barely enough. It is quite often suggested that the actors are ready to act by default under given local contexts and certain institutional framework. The author, however, doesn’t share that optimism relying on her own extensive research and awareness with local situation. Todays strategies of political behavior among regional elites (including social policy) are remarkable for their adaptability, which, in turn, is a consequence of the power vertical that blocks any initiative from beyond. The readiness of executive bodies to implement social policy according to regional specifics is, in fact, quite low. At the same time executive power positions itself as an agent, which owns the monopoly for information, competence and better vision of the strategy in the field of social policy . Although expressing such ambitions it has no strategic vision. This leads to low efficiency of the implemented policies. Regional legislators are unable to seek the consensus in how it should be done, in spite of all the modernization rhetoric with respect to social policy. Moreover, hidden and often non-transparent rules of the game provide certain advantages to most deputies. Social policy, thus, remains a subject to populist debates among the representatives of various political parties, although stimulates no real change. Business in Russian regions is a forced actor of social policy, as it was before. In spite of supporting the subsidiary model of social policy, it is, in fact, a ‘money bag’ for the paternalist model, which is imposed by legislative and executive powers. And this form of cooperation has even strengthened under crisis. At the same time it is often forgotten, that such ‘obligatory help’ doesn’t produce a sustainable motivation. From here follows the only possible conclusion: business cannot be regarded as a system and stable actor of regional social policy. Neither have become such system actors the trade unions and various NGOs. The article provides extensive argumentation in favor of such point of view. It is peculiar that post-criminal business tries to reassert itself as a real actor of social policy. However, it can never become a system actor, no matter how much it requires social policy in pursuing its own interests. The reason is a high level of distrust to its actions from society. The research allows to highlight the doubtless process, which takes place in contemporary Russia: the regional social policy is highly affected by the excessive control from federal power. This leads to the situation, where regions unwillingly accept the prescriptions from above rather than work out their own initiatives in the field of social policy. This naturally leads to a deficit of motivation. However, regions remain a perspective ground for new social practices to sprout. This can become possible if the federal pressure will become less protrusive.
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