Elisabeth Schimpfössl: The Super-Rich of Russia

Following on from last week’s discussion of global povertyThe Provocateur turns its attention to the other end of the social scale: the super-rich, who have often been neglected in sociological studies of inequality. In Russia as in other post-Communist countries, capitalism is a relatively new phenomenon, creating in some cases a backlash from older Soviet-born generations against the burgeoning rise of mass consumption. Philanthropy is also becoming trendy among Russian multi-millionaires and billionaires, apparently in response to major disparities in income and wealth.

In this installment of The Provocateur I talk to Elisabeth Schimpfössl, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL, about her intriguing work researching the lives of Russia’s 0.1%. We discuss the historical context of Russian inequality in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, before zooming in on the super-rich themselves. We investigate the gendered dynamics of Russian elites, their attitudes to the current regime and their motivations for charitable giving. Towards the end of the episode we also explore the future of Russian politics and the viability of comparisons with another highly oil-dependent country, Venezuela.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Robbie Smith: Haiti and the Complexities of Giving

In this second episode of The Provocateur, I talk to Robbie Smith, CEO and founder of NGOs United, about the political situation in Haiti and how his initiative can improve the efficacy of development aid in the country. Join us for a fascinating discussion that takes in the history of this oft-forgotten Caribbean state; the impact of recent natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew; and the ongoing challenges to effective aid delivery.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Berry, N. S. (2014) ‘Did we do good? NGOs, conflicts of interest and the evaluation of short-term medical missions in Solola, Colombia’,  Social Science & Medicine 120, pp. 344-351.

Kidder, T. (2011) Mountains Beyond Mountains. London: Profile Books.

Minn, P. H. (2011) “Where They Need Me”: The Moral Economy of International Medical Aid in Haiti. PhD thesis, McGill University.

Pfeiffer, J. (2003) ‘International NGOs and primary health care in Mozambique: the need for a new model of collaboration’, Social Science & Medicine 56, pp. 725-738.