Comrade consumer: Economic and technological images of the West in the definition of the Soviet future 1957-1969

Nettleton, Nordica Thea (2006) Comrade consumer: Economic and technological images of the West in the definition of the Soviet future 1957-1969. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The goal of the Soviet government in the 1950s and 1960s was not to emulate the political or economic system of the Western capitalist democracies; it was to overtake them in terms of the provision of wealth; a wealth that was to be equitably distributed and to which social programmes were implicitly understood to belong. Positive statements about the economic and technological successes of the West, particularly as they pertained to the Soviet future, were means by which individuals and the state could share a language and established a common ground for discussion while pursuing interests that met and diverged. Criticism of the current material reality within the USSR fell within the realm of permitted dissent. Thus, consumption served as both a prime motivational factor and a safety valve for releasing the pressure of discontent. Soviet failure to maintain the belief that the communist system was capable of providing a socially acceptable level of consumerism while the government still purported Marxist ideology, resulted in the social acceptance of modernisation and consumerism, both intrinsically linked with the West, as the most favourable objective but devoid of the belief that the Soviet system was best able to achieve this. The positive information about the West which was intended to motivate Soviet citizens, instead served to provide them with an alternative means of achieving their future objectives. The de-stabilising effect of Party permitted information affected Soviet society on multiple levels and was introduced through numerous means. This study is an examination of the introduction of the economic and technological ideas as they entered Soviet discourse through official statements in the form of speeches, newspaper articles, books etc.; through cultural diplomacy in the form of exhibitions; and through science and technology, specifically the SCST and the turn key factory AVTOVAZ. Taken together, these image conduits resulted in the creation of a mythical other: that is to say externally and internally constructed image of the West that was to challenge the economic legitimacy of the Party's leadership and to call into question the goals of the communist system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: James White
Keywords: Russian history, Economic history
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-71079
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71079

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