Essay on The Social Identity Of The United States Of Post Soviet Russia

Essay on The Social Identity Of The United States Of Post Soviet Russia

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Topographical borders are socially accepted aspects of a globalizing world; societies are divided, boundaries are marked, and walls, roads, and checkpoints distinguish countries from one another. With the use of physical borders comes the designation of space, and with the designation of space comes the bounding of individuals to territory. In this way, the lack of residency, or topographical ownership, disables a person’s designation to a space, unmaking their spatial stake in society. Persons become categorized as ‘bounded’ and ‘unbounded’, ‘with home’ or ‘homeless’ and eventually, ‘citizens’ and ‘non-citizens’. This correlation between boundaries and societal categorizations manifests itself prominently in the homeless population of post-Soviet Russia. Here, homelessness is engrained in the consciousness of the state as divergent; being “homeless is not a purely economic disadvantage but also a stigmatized social identity that is given meaning according to its conceptual distance from “the norm” (Wasserman, 2010: 2). Further, the “presence of homeless persons in the midst of ‘settled society’ creates anxiety and disorientation” (Stephenson, 2006: 3) for the middle to upper class. In this paper, I will examine how borders and subsequent boundaries have not only directly affected the perception of homeless persons in the post-Soviet condition, but that their continued social enforcement in post-Soviet space has enabled the creation of a homeless sub-culture. I argue that the most intense social tensions come to be not when a physical border segregates, but when that border falls and disparate cultures are made to interact social borders become built that are much harder to ‘take down’. In the analysis that follows, I will first e...


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...at the shelter only held twelve beds (Skortsov, 1992: 33), and that they only accepted homeless persons with proof of previous Moscow residency (Stephenson, 2006: 155).
It is clear that a lack of documentation can have a profound affect on a persons livelihood, and can mean the difference between ‘settled’ and ‘unsettled’, ‘citizen’ and ‘non-citizen’, ‘with home’ or ‘homeless’. Moreover, with homeless persons now inside of the borders of mainstream life in Moscow, their visibility became substantiated. A physical border segregating homeless persons in Moscow to the outskirts of society behind the 101st kilometer fell, and new technologies of social exclusion were created that were detailed with even less permeable social borders. Now, homeless persons not only lack their very own place on the physical landscape, but their social topography is just as inexistent.

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