And They Lived Happily Ever After

Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe
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336 pages

This book takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. It focuses on the problematic domains of the institutions and laws devised to cope with family difficulties, and discusses the social strains created by the transition from communist to post-communist national systems. In addition to the substantial historic analysis, actual challenges are also discussed. The essays examine the changing gender roles, alterations in legal systems, the burdens faced by married and unmarried women who are mothers, the contrasts between government rhteoric and the implementation of policies toward marriage, children and parenthood. By addressing the specifics of welfare politics under the Communist rule and the directions of their transformation in 1990–2000s, this book contributes to the understanding of social institutions and family policies in these countries and the problems of dealing with the socialist past that this region face

List of Abbreviations





Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko



PART I 1940s–1980s The Family as a “Basic Unit of Socialist Society”


Chapter 1. Lone Motherhood in Soviet Russia in the Mid-20th Century—In a European Context Helene Carlbäck


Chapter 2. Family, Divorce, and Comrades’ Courts: Soviet Family and Public Organizations During the Thaw

Elena Zhidkova


Chapter 3. A Life of Labor, a Life of Love: Telling the Life of a Young Peasant Mother Facing Collectivization

Ildikó Morell Asztalos


Chapter 4. East German Women Going West: Family, Children and Partners in Life-Experience Literature

Christine Farhan


Chapter 5. Why Does Public Policy Implementation Fail? Lithuanian Office of State Benefits for Mothers of Large Families and Single Mothers, 1944–1956

Dalia Leinarte


Chapter 6. The Latvian Family Experience with Sovietization 1945–1990

Majia Runcis



PART II 1990s–2000s Social Transformation in the Mirror of Family Life


Chapter 7. “Two children Puts You in the Zone of Social Misery”: Childbearing and Risk Perception among Russian Women

Anna Rotkirch and Katja Kesseli


Chapter 8. “Supporting Genuine Development of the Child.” Public Childcare Centers Versus Family in Post-Soviet Russia

Yulia Gradskova


Chapter 9. Everyday Continuity and Change: Family and Family Policy in Russia

Zhanna Kravchenko


Chapter 10. Single Mothers—Clients or Citizens? Social Work with Poor Families in Russia

Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova and Pavel Romanov


Chapter 11. Welfare Crisis and Crisis-Centers in Russia Today

Aino Saarinen


Chapter 12. Marriage and Divorce Law in Russia and the Baltic States: Overview of Recent Changes

Olga A. Khazova


Chapter 13. Doing Parenting in Post-Socialist Estonia and Latvia

Ingegerd Municio-Larsson


Chapter 14. Gendered Experiences in Entrepreneurship, Family and Social Activities in Russia

Ann-Mari Sätre


Notes on Contributors



"The essays by Leinarte and Runcis off er valuable insights about the intersection of gender and nationality; Carlbäck’s, Munico-Larsson’s, and Sätre’s chapters contribute to the growing scholarship on Soviet and post-Soviet masculinity; and the essays by Carlbäck, Zhidkova, and Leinarte speak to the current historiographical interest in the ambiguous nature of the thaw. Many of the essays explore notions of agency by offering compelling examples of how people without much power manage to formulate coping strategies (see the chapters by Asztalos Morell, Farhan, Gradskova, and Kravchenko). Finally, essays by Gradskova, Khazova, Kravchenko, Rotkirch and Kesseli, and Iarskaia-Smirnova and Romanov demonstrate the ways in which gender complicates our understanding of post-Soviet politics and society".