Svetlana Stephenson: the sociology academic uncovering the murky world of Russian gangs
Dr Svetlana Stephenson, Reader in Sociology, is the author of The Times Higher Education Book of The Week (14 to 20 January 2016), Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power.
In a Times Higher Education Books podcast, Moscow-born Svetlana spoke to Karen Shook about her life as a university student, teacher and researcher in Russia, and her work as a sociologist, including the process of researching and writing Gangs of Russia.
Svetlana first came to the UK was when she was invited to a summer school for Russian sociology students at the University of Kent. Recalling her experience she said: "It was a wonderful programme that was designed to introduce Soviet sociologists to western sociology."
Svetlana has lived in Britain for the last 20 years. After receiving a Leverhulme fellowship at Essex University, she worked in a number of research posts before her appointment as a full-time lecturer at the University of North London, the predecessor institution of London Metropolitan University.
In her latest book, Svetlana describes the growth of Russian street gangs in the 1990s and how they've maintained a stronghold of power in many parts of Russia. She explains that while some gang members have died in gang-related violence or have become incarcerated within the Russian custodial system, a few have made surprisingly reformed livelihoods away from the streets and transitioned to successful careers in business and politics.
Svetlana explains that gangs still remain an integral part of Russian society and describes how the relationships and connections that bring the worlds of gangs and general society together through illegal business transactions continue to operate and develop.
Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power is published by Cornell University Press.