Liberal and Conservative Trends in Post-Soviet Social Policies for Children

  • Lidia Okolskaya Federal Sociology Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences
Keywords: modernization, content analysis, family, children, social policy, government, children’s rights, upbringing values, emancipation, conservatism, legislation, rhetoric


This study examines the framework documents capturing the political rhetoric on children as well as different versions of the Russian law on children’s rights to explore how government agencies perceive and treat children as a social group and what social policy values and norms are at play in this field in Russia. The sample includes documents of two genres: general child protection policies and existing laws. Content analysis allows identifying the underlying values and the principles of treating children (universalism, self-direction, benevolence, conservation, openness to change) as well as the methods of social policy (incentivization, normalization, prohibition) that have been reflected in the legislative documents. Analysis of how social policies for children were changing from the 1990s through the 2010s shows that both liberal and conservative trends were present. The liberal trend of the 2010s consisted in taking terms and values from the international legislative experience. In particular, children have come to be recognized as social actors and full-fledged participants of societal processes; the government’s perception of children as a social group has become more individualized; orphanage deinstitutionalization is occurring; children’s need for belonging and love has been acknowledged; the values of autonomy, such as independence and responsibility, are being encouraged in children. The conservative trend in social policies for children manifests itself in a statistically significant growth of support for the traditional values, such as multigenerational households, parental authority, and family loyalty.


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How to Cite
Okolskaya, Lidia. 2019. “Liberal and Conservative Trends in Post-Soviet Social Policies for Children”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 2 (June), 262-92.
History of Education