The ArcticMainpage
Click to view
of this article
Individual and Community well-being
by Larrissa Ribova
Previous ChapterPrevious Chapter Next ChapterNext Chapter
Social services
  Individual and community well-being is very much influenced by the state's social welfare performance, which in turn, varies in different parts of the North. Two welfare regimes dominate in the North. In accordance with the Esping-Andersen (1990) classification, they are: the liberal regime and the social democratic regime. The liberal regime is dominated by means-tested benefits, which include modest universal cash transfers and some social insurance schemes. This regime is implemented in the USA and Canada. The social democratic regime provides many universal benefits as social rights based on citizenship and are financed by taxes. Benefits are relatively high, and the welfare state itself is extensive as in Scandinavia. Russia's present regime (as Granberg and Riabova argue in "Social Policy and the Russian North") can be described as "liberal, or even less" (Granberg & Riabova, 1998).
  Presently, it is a common feature of all welfare regimes, that the state's engagement in people's welfare is being reduced via a reduction of social welfare expenditures and benefits. Social policy reforms, be it a gradual reformation of the Scandinavian welfare state, swift and profound reforms of the welfare system in Russia, or social service reforms in Canada, are much about the devolution of power over service planning with local and regional levels taking more responsibility (Riabova L., 1998; Browne A., 1999). This devolution often results in down loading the responsibilities without adequate financial resources or personnel in place. Today, the main barriers in service delivery to the remote Northern communities are: reduced geographical accessibility, a limited range of services, and a limited number of personnel delivering services.
  In Canada, as A. Browne (1999) reports, in northern and rural regions, family members, community nurses, family physicians and social service workers are left to cope with the acute health problems that people experience when they are either not cared for in hospitals or are discharged early. Unreasonable demands are then placed on the already overburdened community-based health services.
  In the Russian North, the retreat of the state from the social sphere and the general cutback of social expenses in the country in early 90s, led to great reductions in the quantity and quality of social services. Peripheral remote settlements have suffered most of all. In some cases, medical services and kindergartens are lacking or simply closed, and many schools do not have a complete staff of teachers. In the Russian North, where the distances between towns are great, the availability or absence of transport connections between the settlements, determines to a large extent the availability of social services and consequently, the well-being of the inhabitants (Riabova, 1998; Gutsol & Riabova, forthcoming).
  In the Murmansk region, in remote settlements limited means of communication include air transport and occasional road and water transport for a limited period. TV channels are not available and newspapers come once a week at best. The air connection is not regular and the winter roads often are cut because of weather conditions. Thus, it is difficult to obtain medical services that cannot be provided in the local communities. Transport difficulties also create shortages of food products and other necessary goods. Such isolation makes both a traditional subsistence economy and indigenous medicine, important for survival.
  One of the most acute problems is the upbringing and education of children away from their families, in special schools (so-called internats) located in bigger settlements. This way of organizing education is most often practiced in the indigenous settlements of the Russian North, where parents are working outside of settlements in the tundra, and this has had serious consequences for indigenous family stability, often resulting in a loss of ties between generations.
  Throughout the North, recognizing and incorporating native traditions, culture, and values into northern community social service programs is important in order to make them more effective in meeting the needs of the community.
Previous ChapterPrevious Chapter Next ChapterNext Chapter
Individual and Community well-being, by Larrissa Ribova.
Copyright Stefansson Arctic Institute and individual authors ©2000
Developed in partnership with the EU Raphael Programme