Academic analysis has not always kept pace with the dramatic changes that have occurred in the USSR since Stalin’s time, for objective study has often been overshadowed—especially in the 1980s—by publicity concerning the negative aspects of the “Evil Empire.” Recently, however, because of reforms initiated by Gorbachev, the dynamics of the Soviet system have come into sharper focus. This book provides a wide-ranging, detailed view of economic, social, ideological, and literary aspects of the Soviet system leading up to the Gorbachev era. The essays include both historical and contemporary perspectives on the sources of stability (and stagnation) in the post-Stalin years. Examining the intricate fabric of Soviet society, the contributors provide insights into the social and cultural motivations for Gorbachev’s “restructuring” policies. Their themes echo the work of Vera S. Dunham, who for more than four decades has focused on diverse aspects of Soviet society and culture, particularly on the noncoercive means of social control that have often been overlooked but that are a vital component of the Soviet system.
Foreword -- Trends in Soviet Society -- The Little Deal: Brezhnev’s Contribution to Acquisitive Socialism -- “Middle-class Values” and Soviet Life in the 1930s -- Cell Mutation in Soviet Society: The Family -- Urban Leisure Culture in Post-Stalin Russia: Stability as a Social Problem? -- Shifting Strata: Ethnicity, Gender, and Work in Soviet Central Asia -- Literary Perspectives -- Trifonov: The Historian as Artist -- The Transformations of Babi Yar -- Abram Tertz: Dissidence, Diffidence, and Russian Literary Tradition -- The Language of Ideology -- The Uses and Abuses of Russian History -- Lighting the Road Behind: Soviet Historiography of the Russian Revolutionary Movement -- Developed Socialism: Brezhnev’s Contribution to Soviet Ideology -- Sources of Soviet Stability -- The State-run Economy: Stability or Ossification? An Essay on the Soviet Production System -- The Conditions of Stability in the Soviet Union