Article Information


Simo Mannilaa, Galina Eremichevab (corresponding author. E-mail:

a Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland

b Sociological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Mannila S., Eremicheva G. (2017) Prinyatiye riskov pri sozdanii malogo semeynogo biznesa v Possii – razmytyye grantsy zhiznennogo kursa [Risk-taking and Business Entry in Russia – Blurred Borders of a Life Course]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 20(2): 142–176 (in Russian).

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Abstract. The article describes some risks and strategies of coping with them while launching a small family business in Russia. Entering into business was a strategy for a household to cope with the difficult material conditions, which, after trials and errors, led to the accumulation of initial funds. For example, participation in the shuttle trade, which allowed to provide the initial capital to create their own business in the future. Despite the fact that this research project is based on interviews collected in the 2000s, this topic has not only become less urgent, but, on the contrary, in the conditions of the prolonged crisis, the interest in the experience of creating one's own business and practices of coping with the attendant risks is only increasing.

The authors argue that the business climate in Russia has improved significantly over the past 15-20 years, but ambiguous relationships with government bodies and a tense socio-psychological climate persist. All this becomes a source of feelings of instability and existential "fragility". Opportunities for the development of small and medium-sized businesses remain rather limited. The article explores the tricky boundaries of law enforcement, which informants described in the interview, and risks at all stages of development of their own business.

In the article we draw upon the materials of two research projects: "New risks and emerging middle class in Russia in transition: class, gender, and welfare in St. Petersburg" (Finnish-Russian project University of Helsinki and Social Research Institute of Alcohol Studies, Helsinki, Finland (1998-2000)) and "Trajectories of life courses of the residents of St. Petersburg in post-Soviet Russia: intergenerational analysis» (2014-2017).

Keywords: family business, risk, economic and political uncertainty, formal and informal economy, life trajectories, shuttle trade.


The work was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Humanitarian Research within the framework of the project 15-03-00421 "Trajectories of life courses of the residents of St. Petersburg in post-Soviet Russia: intergenerational analysis" (2014-2017).


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