By Paul Goble
For some time, scholars in the West have focused on the issue of social exclusion, a form of discrimination in which people are kept from participating in the life of the society of which they are a part because they are members of a particular social class or group, typically defined by the economic condition of its members.
(For an introduction to the concept and its consequences for those who are its victims, see intranet.newriver.edu/images/stories/library/Stennett_Psychology_Articles/Anxiety_and_Social_Exclusion_point-counterpoint.pdf.)
Now, researchers at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics are considering the existence of social exclusion in the Russian Federation and say that almost 13 percent of the Russian population is at risk of falling into such a category; and Rosstat plans to add this measure to its regular reporting (kommersant.ru/doc/4061060).
According to the study, “the risk of social exclusion is real for 13.1 percent of the residents and 19.8 percent of the households in Russia,” with the share of the population ranging from 1.7 percent in Moscow to 34.3 percent in Khakassia and with the unemployed and multi-child families being most at risk (36.2 percent and 22 percent respectively).
Sergey Smirnov and Aleksey Kapustin of the Higher School of Economics conducted the research last year for Rosstat. They defined the category of social exclusion the way the UNDP does as being a situation in which people are restricted in their access to the economy, social services, and public life.
Social exclusion includes poverty as one of its components but it isn’t equivalent to that, the scholars say. It exists as a result of the combination of poverty “and other factors” which “de facto isolate households from the ‘larger society’” and transform those in it into “a closed and marginal subculture.”
According to Kommersant journalist Anastasiya Manuylova, this is one of the first such studies to be conducted in the Russian Federation and will help structure the indices Rosstat plans to use beginning next year to give a more comprehensive description of those who are poor, including why they are so and what that means for their lives and the life of society.