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“FOUNDLINGS”: REPRESENTATIONS OF FOSTER PARENTHOOD IN CONTEMPORARY RUSSIA

Larisa Shpakovskaya (E-mail: slarisalarisa@gmail.com)

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Shpakovskaya L. (2018) “Podkidyshi”: reprezentatsii priyemnogo roditel'stva v sovremennoy Rossii [“Foundlings”: representations of foster parenthood in contemporary Russia]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(3): 71–92 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2018.21.3.4

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Abstract. The article deals with the analysis of representations of foster parenthood in mass culture on the example of the analysis of the TV series "Foundlings" (TV channel “Home”, 2016–2017). The ideology of foster parenthood and its main elements are reconstructed. The author starts with the idea that mass culture products create ideological images of parenthood that define patterns of behavior and ways of interpreting the everyday experience of fathers and mothers. But they also offer in a simplified form pictures which are easily understandable to mass audience and use mass shared canons and stereotypes. Mass cultural products broadcast the prevailing power relations through the policies of representations and produce mass shared notions of normal and abnormal, morally approved and unacceptable behavior. The methodology of the case-study is used in the research. Interpretation and generalization of the results of the case analysis is built on the basis of a wide range of information sources: popular mass culture products (novels, films and TV programms), legislation, interviews with experts and parents. The political and ideological context of the series is reconstructed in connection with the reforms of the deinstitutionalization of care for children left without parental care, which began in 2014 (418 Decree of the RF Government). The repeated structural elements of the serial “Foundlings” were found: types of characters, the sequence of their actions and the general meanings of the events taking place. The following structural elements were picked up: bad mothers, irresponsible fathers, non-subjective children, altruistic citizens, the state. The serial stories are built around the representations of "good" and "bad" parenthood as natural categories that are inherent to the individuals. Representation of the causes of child's loss of family occurs within the cultural paradigm of “poor motherhood”. The representations of good and bad parenting are inscribed in the broader discursive construction of responsible parenthood. In general, the representations of parenthood in contemporary Russian mass culture are inscribed in the liberal trend of Russian social policy, act as an instrument for moral education of parents, as well as for mobilizing citizens and families to solve state tasks related to the welfare of children without parental care.

Keywords: cultural representations, mass culture, motherhood, foster parenthood, de-institutionalization of childcare, visual ideology

Acknowledgments: Interviews with experts as well as analysis of media materials and the “Foundlings"” series were conducted in the framework of the project of the University of Helsinki (Finland), “A child's right to a family: Deinstitutionalizaton of child welfare in Putin's Russia” (2016–2018) under the direction of Mary Kulmala. Interviews with parents were collected in the framework of various research projects of the Higher School of Economics (2011–2013).

 

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