Russia's emerging margins : the 'transition' in the north of Perm' oblast
This thesis is concerned with the geographical impact of the post-Soviet transition on the north of Perm' oblast, Russian Federation; a forested area which is marginal in terms of agriculture and economic development, where harsh climate and marshy soils preclude profitable agriculture, and where very poor infrastructure and low levels of investment have contributed to the decline of the forestry industry, which was developed during the Soviet period outside of the market system under which such development might have been regarded as non-viable. This thesis discusses marginality and poverty against the background of the process of 'transition' in Russia, and also outlines the theory of transition itself. The historical context is also considered; the processes through which the north of Perm' oblast arrived at the position in which it found itself by 1991 are examined, and changes up to the present day are analyzed. Historically, the processes of settlement and development of forestry in the study area are central. The political situation in the Russian Federation is also brought into the argument; the struggle for power between the centre and the periphery, and the weakening of the centre in recent months all have a bearing upon the view taken of marginal areas by the Moscow administration, and the policies undertaken which affect them. The thesis describes the responses of rural inhabitants to the processes of marginalisation; through out-migration, bifurcation of households, and the ways in which they utilise their domestic and environmental resources to effect subsistence. It also describes the importance of cash sources, of social capital, and of the forestry enterprises in the villages, as survival strategies. The conditions in the study region are shown to owe much to the context of Soviet development policy, and its impact on post-Soviet Russia.