Gendering social work in Russia: towards anti‐discriminatory practices
Equal Opportunities International
Article publication date: 4 January 2008
This article seeks to uncover the gendered nature of discourses in social services and social work textbooks and their impact on the professional identity of social workers in Russia.
It is based on qualitative methodology, referring to interview material, and discourse analysis of the Russian textbooks used in social care education. It addresses three dimensions of gender: labour market policies and women's work/low wages; identity constructions of the social workers; and the discourse of gender in teaching material and textbooks.
The research shows that, by setting up inadequate wage policies for social workers, the state has reinforced the societal assumption of cheap women's labour. In addition, power relations in social work practice reinforce social inequalities. The ideology of a specific female work‐capacity is reproduced in social work, as in other forms of care work.
The findings highlight that gender differences are represented as biologically materialised substances, while social conditions of their construction are not taken into account. Single mothers are often portrayed as immoral or unfortunate and considered dangerous for their own children and society as a whole.
In the education and professional development of social workers, major emphasis needs to be given to anti‐discriminatory practice and critical thinking.
The lack of professionalisation of social work is explained in terms of gender inequality in the social order, which is mirrored in the conditions of labour market and therefore especially in “female work”.
Iarskaia‐Smirnova, E. and Romanov, P. (2008), "Gendering social work in Russia: towards anti‐discriminatory practices", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 64-76. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610150810844947
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