Soviet Society

Society in the USSR 1917-41

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  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 07-05-08 19:41

The Three Phases of Social Change

1) 1917-1928 > Greater freedom in many areas

> Mood of experimentation

2) 1928-1932 > Cultural Revolution

> Attempt to create a true Soviet society

3) 1932 > Great Retreat - return to a more traditional society

*1938 - greatest amount of fear for one's life

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Women and the Family

> Lenin said marriage was sexual + economic exploitation for women, looked into creating canteens/laundries etc to give them economic independence

> 1917, introduced divorce law - women could divorce men, empowered them

> 1919 - USSR highest marriage and divorce rates in Europe - 50%, 2/3 in big cities

> 1920 - Abortion Law - first country to offer them on demand, 3 to every 1 birth

> Social welfare laws more generous - maternity leave, no late hours etc

LAW AND OPPORTUNITIES CHANGED BUT ATTITUDES DIDN'T

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Women and Work

> Paid less than men

> Almost half urban workforce but first to lose jobs in slumps

> 1920s - many women engaged in illegal activity, 39% urban men used prostitutes

> Worked all day and did household chores

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Women and Politics

> 10% Bolsheviks were women 1917 Revolution

> 1928 - 12.5% - sexist attitudes

> Politics deemed unladylike

> 1919 Zhenotdel set up to appease women

> 1930 shut down due to lack productivity

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Family Upheaval

QUICKSAND SOCIETY - HIGH DIVORCE/ABORTION RATES
(created by industrialisation; thousands of workers on the move)

> 1920s family 'bourgeois, patriarchal'

> Soviet urban marriage rate high, impact of radical policies (postcard divorce, unregistered marriage, abortion) weakened families

> Collectivisation upheavalcaused social instability

> Birth rate fell, juvenile crime increased, huge numbers of homeless children

> Mid 1930s positive move towards pro family, pro discipline + anti abortion policies

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The Great Retreat - Society

Changes in Attitudes:

> Marriage to be taken seriously - Family Code 1936, children to love + respect parents

> Abortions to be outlawed except for medical reasons, divorce made harder and more costly for each

> Child support payment increase, mothers of 6+ rewarded

> Illegitimate children stigmatised

> Birth rate rose almost 0.6% in 5 years

> Laws passed against homosexuality and prostitution

> Newspapers reported prosecutions of doctors performing abortions, women imprisoned

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What Was the Extent of Change?

> Massive changes through law and propaganda

> Gave too much liberty and saw the damaging effects it had on society, thus deciding to retreat and remove their freedom

> 1936 - Law Retreat, started in education mid 1930s

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Education

> Totalitarian - everyone actively supports the regime - Lenin thought this key to building a socialist society

> Education a propaganda method - Lunacharsky Commissar for Enlightenment pre 1928, old style of teaching too bourgeois, children to have more influence

> Teachers stripped of authority - 95% not Communist, pupil committees set up to impose regulations

> By 1928, education back to how it was (teachers had authority) but Communism taught as a subject, financial problems meant education unavailable to all

> 1928 onwards- Cultural Revolution - Shulgin's Project Method, 'the withering away of schools', education should be pratically and socially useful

> Exploitation of child

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Education

> Totalitarian - everyone actively supports the regime - Lenin thought this key to building a socialist society

> Education a propaganda method - Lunacharsky Commissar for Enlightenment pre 1928, old style of teaching too bourgeois, children to have more influence

> Teachers stripped of authority - 95% not Communist, pupil committees set up to impose regulations

> By 1928, education back to how it was (teachers had authority) but Communism taught as a subject, financial problems meant education unavailable to all

> 1928 onwards- Cultural Revolution - Shulgin's Project Method, 'the withering away of schools', education should be pratically and socially useful

> Exploitation of child labour, non Party teachers expelled due to be replaced by trained Red Specialists

> Thousands frantically training to teach Shulgin's system

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The Great Retreat

> Investigation into education 1931 - children uneducated, method failing

> 1935 - Education Law Passed; text books given by government, formal exams, Communist ideology more vigorous, heavy conservatism

Universities:

> During Cultural Revolution, 70% university places reserved for working class

> Scrapped during Great Retreat 1935, 70% students dropping out due to lack of basic education

> Education slightly better than under Tsarist Russia - more opportunities for working class, more emphasis on literacy + technical education for some to support 5YPs

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History Teaching

> Lenin wanted people to learn about October Revolution 1917

> Favoured book by Pokrovsky - Marxist interpretation of Revolution (class struggle + economic difficulty)

> When Lenin died, history teaching stopped (during Cultural Revolution) - seen as bourgeois

> Came back during Great Retreat; Tsars studied for first time

> History became a tool of Stalinist indoctrination - geared to emphasise his role in the Revolution (he appeared in no literature about it)

> History teaching nationalistic, boosted propaganda

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Youth Organisations

> Didn't leave indoctrination to non Communist teachers- mission to capture hearts and minds of the young

> Pioneers for under 15s and Komsomol set up, articulated Communist values, promoted loyalty from working class, used later for social control and to promote in-school discipline

> Komsomol used by Communists to take propaganda into towns/villages, attack bourgeouis values and religious believers

> Membership seen as preparation for Communist Party, played an important role in Cultural Revolution

> Pavlik Morozov denounced family for the Party (and later for Stalin), killed by family but used as a propaganda icon

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Role of the Komsomol in the Revolution

> 2 million members by 1927 (started 1918)

> Very exclusive; many applicants rejected on grounds of immaturity/insufficient proletarian social origins

> Membership enthusiastic

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Role of the Komsomol 1929-33

> 'Soldiers of production' - described as 'the most reliable and powerful organising force of the constitution'

> Imposed labour discipline; led + joined shock brigades

> Enforced collectivisation, collectedprocured grain

> Exposed official abuse, unmasked hidden enemies, kept an eye on bureaucracy

> Attacked non Party professors + teachers with aim of replacing middle class intelligentsia and making it proletarian

> Reporting on the popular mood

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Anti Religious Campaigns in the USSR

> Strong links between orthodox + Tsarist Russia

> Wanted to eliminate religion entirely

> Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers etc

> By 1939 around 1% churches remained open (end of 1930 80% churches closed)

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Impact of the Cultural Revolution

> Young Communists took up the challenge, attacked fiercely in villages on religion, broke up 'bourgeois' plays, criticised painters + writers who didn't support the Party

> Activists wanted a proletarian society with proletarian values

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