Theme 4: Social developments, 1917-85.

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  • Created on: 18-06-18 09:17

Theme 4: Social developments, 1917-85.

Theme 4:

Social developments, 1917-85. 

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Work and benefits under Lenin.

  • Lenin influenced by Marx.
  • In 1918, he published the Declaration of the Rights of Toiling and Exploited People:
  • Designed to transform work:
    • Declaration abolished private ownership of land.
    • Capitalists could no longer make money off of simply owning things.
    • Declaration introduced Universal Labour Duty.
      • Designed to eliminate the parasitical layers of society.
    • Ensured everybody worked and therefore capitalists couldn’t simply live off the labour of others.
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Work 1917-18.

  • Lenin’s economic policies based of ensuring stable employment.
  • 570 Industrial enterprises closed between march and August 1917.
  • Unemployment increased by over 100,000 by October 1918.
  • Situation worsened after the October Revolution.
  • Lenin took Russia out of WW1.
  • War production ceased causing unemployment to rise.
  • During this period of time, Lenin stressed the duty of labour discipline and collaboration between workers and their former bosses, who were employed as “bourgeois specialists”
  • The specialists no longer made money through property, rather earn a wag for running the factories.
  • Lenin’s early economic plans failed to stop the disintegration of the economy and rising unemployment.
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Work and benefits, 1919-21.

  • War Communism was based on a relationship between the government and the workers.
  • Workers provided labour and government provided food and basic necessities.
  • Widespread unemployment was ended by the introduction of compulsory labour.
  • From September 1918, able men from 16-50 lost the right to refuse employment.
  • People in work issued a work card and given rations.
  • After money was abolished, rations were allocated according to occupation.
    • Working class go the highest, but people working in the middle-class like doctors and aristocrats were entitled to 25% of the food that the working class received.
    • At the height of the rationing system, 22 million people were entitled to ration cards.
  • Rationing organised by the Prodraspred.
    • Had subsections which delivered rations to workers.
  • Workers also had access to benefits, like work cards entitled to travel on public transport.
    • Communal dining halls set up in factories to feed the workers.
    • Government claimed that 93% of the people living in Moscow in 1920 were regularly fed in communal halls.
  • Party members given privileges.
    • Government ran shops where Party members could buy food and goods that were otherwise scarce.
  • In practice, the system of compulsory work and government provisions was unsuccessful:
    • Compulsory labour was unsustainable under Civil War conditions.
      • By Jul 1920, factories were being forced to close due to fuel shortages.
      • Government forced unemployed people to search for fuel or join food detachments.
    • War communism never provided more than 50% of the food and fuel that people needed to survive.
      • In the short term, people turned to the black market.
      • In the long term, workers fled the cities and seeked work on farms for food.
      • Between 1917-21, the population of Petrograd dropped by 50%.
  • Factory closures and food scarcities meant that War Communism failed to create a system of full employment.
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Work and benefits in the 1920’s.

  • Unemployment surged for a number of reasons:
    • In 1921 and 1922, soldiers from the Red Army were demobilised and unemployed.
    • Urban workers who left the cities during the civil war returned and were unable to work.
    • At the beginning of the NEP, the government tried to rationalise industry to make it more profitable.
      • Workers in government factories reduced to lower costs.
    • Government sacked 225,000 admins who had been administering the system.
  • Despite high unemployment, the government administered some benefits for working:
    • 1922 Labour Law gave unions rights to negotiate binding agreements about pay and conditions with employers.
    • Social insurance: Paid disability benefits, maternity benefits, unemployment benefits, which covered nine million workers.
    • The government invested in education for urban workers and families.
  • Peasants excluded from social insurance.
  • Government focused its benefits towards the proletariat.
  • Whilst unemployment was a huge problem during the period of the NEP, urban workers were better off in 1926, than before the revolution in 1913.
    • Paid around 10% more before revolution and had access to more meat and fish.
    • Peasants did not benefit whatsoever.
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Work and benefits under Stalin.

  • The Five Year Plans and collectivisation were moves made to move away from the compromise with capitalism under the NEP.
  • Therefore various aspects of capitalism that Communists saw as problematic, which had been tolerated into the 1920’s but ended following Stalin’s Great Turn.
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Employment and benefits in the 1930’s.

  • Safety was not a benefit that Stalin prioritised for his workers.
  • Working conditions were awful during Stalin’s period.
  • Speedy construction was more important than clean and safe workplaces.
  • Miners worked in dangerous conditions as meeting production targets was a lot more important than the health and safety of the workers.
  • Stalin introduced harsh labour discipline:
    • Lateness became criminalised.
    • Unions lost the right to negotiate with factory managers.
    • Damaging factory property was criminalised.
    • Strikes banned.
  • Stalin also introduced the continuous work week whereby workers only received one day off a week, every other week.
  • Miners and factories could work seven days a week and did not close down on Sundays.
  • In 1940, workers lost the right to change jobs.
  • Demand for labour very high during the FY Plans.
  • Workers would be able to move from job to job to search for better pay by taking advantage of the demand for labour.
  • Stalin stopped this and internal passports were created to prevent workers from moving from town to town.
  • Over the FY Plans, there was some improvements to benefits:
    • Workers entitled to food rations.
    • By 1933, most soviet citizens had access to electricity.
    • During the 1930’s, 30,000Km of railways were built which increased access to transport.
    • Moscow Metro introduced in the 1930’s.
      • Gave access to underground transport to the population of Moscow.
    • Significant increase in healthcare.
      • New vaccination campaigns dealing with smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid.
    • Factory and farm canteens provided meals for workers.Significant shift in how benefits were administered.
  • Under the NEP benefits were available through trade unions or local soviets.
  • During the 1930’s, benefits were increasingly available through factories or collective farms.
    • Emphasised the link between work and social welfare.
  • Peasants benefited much less than workers.
    • Not entitled to rations.
    • Food scarcer on farms than in cities as government seized it.
  • In theory, all Soviet Citizens had rights to access to benefits.
    • In practice, scarce resources meant that some benefitted more than others.
  • Party members given guaranteed vaccines where workers would have to queue  for any medicine that remained.
    • Called the “Party first” Policy.
  • While all workers were entitled to rations, senior party members could organise special events like banquets that came out of Government money.
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Employment and benefits, 1945-53

  • Full employment continued after the war.
  • Industrial workforce increased from 8 million to 12.2 million from 1945-50, as a result of returning soldiers.
  • Food shortages had an impact on benefits.
  • Eating in communal canteens cost workers between 250-300 rouble per month in 1947. About half a worker’s wages
  • Workers under 18 were entitled to three subsidised meals per day.
    • Only covered 2.3kg of meat and six eggs a month.
    • Most young workers who earned low wages could not afford to pay for the meals.
  • Conditions were better in Stalin’s later years, healthcare improved significantly:
    • Infant mortality declined by 50% between 1940-1950.
    • Number of medical doctors increased by 2/3 from 1947-1952
    • Vaccines for common diseases such as typhus and malaria was made universally available from 1947.
      • Malaria declined from 1949 onwards.
  • Expansion of healthcare did not lead to an improvement in the health of the Soviet people.
  • Food shortages, poor housing and poverty caused by war did lead to sickness rates not falling:
    • The planned economy struggled to produce simple consumer goods.
    • Food was a major problem, in order to make up for food shortages, work canteens used rotten food and animal feed and other products unfit for human consumption.
    • Sanitation in factories and farms was inadequate, leading to lice infestation and outbreaks of dysentery and vomiting.
    • Hygiene education was poor, not until 1947 that there was a publicity campaign to encourage workers to use the toilet in a civilised fashion and wash their hands after using the toilet.
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  • Communists believed that all people had a duty to work and all people had the right to certain benefits,
  • From 1918-1953, none of the economic systems delivered a satisfactory relationship between work and benefits.
  • War Communism and the FY plans succeeded in making work compulsory.
    • For majority of the population.
  • Benefits not available for peasants.
  • Communists never abolished parasitism.
  • Capital parasites may have been liquidated in 1928, but party members still enjoyed lives of privileges.
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Housing, 1917-53.

Housing, 1917-53.

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Redistribution of property, 1918-28.

  • From the beginning of 1918, working people in cities had forcibly taken property away from the Aristocrats and the middle class.
    • Former owners killed or forcibly taken out of their homes.
  • Local soviets were empowered to take property away from its owners and redistribute it to the poor and homeless.
  • By the end of the Civil War, workers fled the cities in search of food as factories were being closed down.
    • Therefore the government authorised the destruction of houses to provide timber for fuel.
  • Under the NEP, between 60-80% of urban housing was denationalised.
  • Redistribution of property was initially outlawed, but after Lenin’s death. there were fresh attempts to redistribute housing.
  • In 1923-24, large town houses were socialised, property owners were forced to live in a single room, while the working class were moved into other rooms.
  • Authorities assumed that one room was big enough for a whole family.
  • Church property was nationalised, priests evicted from cottages and Church buildings turned into stores, civic centres or housing.
    • Rent reintroduced in 1921, House building restarted.
    • Under the conditions of the NEP, 89% of house building was taken over by private companies.
    • Small attempts to create buildings that reflected  values of the revolution in the USSR’s major cities.
  • One of the main ones created was called the Zuev Club, and the Rusakov Club which were built from 1927-1929.
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Housing under Stalin.

Under Stalin, housing became a problem, urban population trebled between 1929 and 1940, as peasants escaped collective farms for jobs in the cities.

  • Therefore demand for housing increased.
  • Government deliberately kept housing budget low and addressed the housing shortages in a number of ways.
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  • In already existing cities, Soviet Government divided buildings into small Kommunalka, or Communal apartments.
  • An entire family would share a single small room.
  • Bathrooms where they even existed would be share.
  • Average kommunalka was 5.5 square metres in 1930’s.
  • Pressure for housing meant that over time, the kommunalka was divided up into 4 square metres by 1940.
  • Often buildings were divided into barely useable spaces.
  • One light switch would control the lighting for several apartments.
  • Government failed to invest in sewage or communal facilities.
  • Baththouses scarce.
  • The 650,000 people in the Liubertsy district of Moscow, for example did not have a single bathhouse.
  • The modernisation of urban centres was also a low priority.
  • For example, the electrification and the provision of street lights slowed.
  • Similarly, the authorities made no attempt to introduce modern sewerage.
  • Coal sheds and under-stairs were converted into accommodation.
    • One family of six lived in an under-stairs cupboard.
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Factory towns.

  • New buildings were constructed under Stalin to support the new factory towns such as Magnitogorsk
  • Construction of factories prioritised over housing.
  • Accommodation in the new factory  towns were often inferior to the kommunalka.
  • Rather than one family per room, several families occupy a barracks-style dormitory.
    • Built out of timber and straw.
    • Did not have running water or bathrooms.
    • New factory towns often lacked basic necessities such as street lights.
  • Magnitogorsk was a model town.
    • German made, clean and modern.
    • But proved to be too expensive
  • Within a year of the project, the initial housing plans were abandoned and so the majority of workers that lived in these factory towns were left in mud huts, and poor sanitation housing.
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Housing, 1941-53.

  • Second World War made the housing situation much worse.
  • Destruction of housing made 1/3 of housing damaged or destroyed from 1941-45.
  • Stalin still continued to prioritise industrial buildings.
  • Official policy of cramming more people into one room continued.
  • Average worker in a kommunalka had four square metres in space.
  • Average worker living in a dormitory had just 3 square metres of space.
  • Conditions remained poor.
  • Workers in the Moscow coalfields were housed in dormitories.
  • Only 15,000 beds for the 26,000 workers.
  • Furniture very scarce.
  • One table for every 10 workers.
  • One wardrobe for ever 27 workers.
  • Government initiated a scheme to encourage workers to build their own homes.
    • Quickly ruined due to scarcity of resources.
    • Series of administrative obstacles that made this even more expensive.
    • Scheme was very ineffective.
  • Housing still not a priority under the Fourth FYP
  • Budgets were much smaller and management remained inefficient.
  • Smaller projects that were starter, progressed very slowly.
  • Moscow spent 40% of their budget and then were suspended.
    • Not one house was completed.
    • Houses that were constructed in the early 1950’s.
      • Often of extremely poor quality.
      • Roofs leaked, plaster fell off walls and there was no gas.
  • Houses on collective farms were prioritised.
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  • Never Stalin’s priority
  • Industrialisation always took precedence.
  • Stalin’s policies actually created a housing crisis.
    • Made worse by the Second World War crisis.
  • Policies did very little to solve the problems and workers were forced to live in awful, unsanitary housing that included no privacy or independence.
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Khrushchev, Brezhnev and the promotion of a stable

Khrushchev, Brezhnev and the promotion of a stable society, 1953-85.

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Khrushchev, socialism and sausage.

  • Khrushchev summarised his approach to socialist economics and politics with the phrase:
    • “What sort of Communism is it that cannot produce a sausage?”
  • Communism, for Khrushchev, implied a better standard of living for working people.
  • Therefore Communism was impossible without a plentiful supply of consumer goods and food.
    • This focus on plenty was evident in the Virgin Lands Scheme and the Seven Year Plan.
  • His welfare and housing policies reflected this commitment.
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Health and welfare.

  • Khrushchev’s belief was that a socialist society should look after the welfare of all.
  • He increased investment in healthcare.
  • The Soviet health care budget more than doubled in Khrushchev’s first year, from 21.4 billion roubles in 1950, to 44.0 billion in 1959.
  • Soviet health care improved.
  • Death rates and infant mortality rates both dropped.
  • Pensions budget quadrupled from 1950-65
  • Number of pensioners increased from 1 million to 4.4 million from 1950-1965
  • Major reforms introduced in 1961 improved social benefits.
  • New laws introduced:
    • Free lunches in schools, offices and factories
    • Free public transport
    • Full pensions and healthcare rights for farmers.
  • These social benefits reforms marked a significant improvement in the standard of living of the Soviet citizens.
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  • Khrushchev had similar success in terms of housing.
  • Between 1950-65, urban housing doubled.
  • Deliberate policy designed to create more urban homes.
  • First Khrushchev ordered a halt to new government and communal buildings.
    • Secondly he invested in new materials and techniques in order to solve the problem of housing
      • Argued that mass cheap housing was necessary in the short term.
      • When communism had been achieved in 1980’s then the housing would be replaced by more sophisticated housing.
  • The result of this policy led to the creation of a new king of low cost housing block named: Khrushchyovka.
    • Designed as temporary buildings.
      • Became the standard model for all the new homes.
      • Construction of Khrushchyovka continued all the way till 1970’s and 1980’s.
  • Khrushchev ordered architects to abandon grand Stalinist architecture.
    • Focus on low-cost functional buildings.
    • The result of this was the K-7 apartment block, constructed quickly and easily from large prefabricated concrete blocks and windows and doors, rather than slowly out of brick.
  • The new apartments allowed families to have an entire apartment rather than being forced to live in a single room.
    • Included bathroom, kitchen and at least two different bedrooms to allow parents to have their own rooms.
    • Apartments were still small but ten times bigger than the kommunalka.
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The “Social contract”.

  • Social policy under Brezhnev continued to follow the directions set by Khrushchev.
  • While the policies continued, but the justification for the policies changed.
  • For Khrushchev, an improved standard of living in the short term meant that the USSR would take a big step towards Communism.
  • Brezhnev abandoned Khrushchev’s promise of reaching Communism by 1980.
  • Brezhnev’s goal was the promotion of a stable society.
  • Brezhnev’s rule was based on the “Social contract” .
    • Brezhnev’s government promised a rising living standard.
    • In essence, the Social Contract was Brezhnev’s formula for promoting social stability.
  • Brezhnev’s social contract consisted of five elements:
    • Job security through guaranteed full employment.
    • Low prices for essential goods.
    • A thriving second economy,
      • No government interference.
    • Social benefits like free healthcare.
    • Some social mobility.
  • The result of the Social contract was an increase in the standards of living.
    • Subsidised rent and utilities were pretty much free.
  • Government continued spending on health and pension by between 4-5% a year under Brezhnev.
  • Overall, Brezhnev’s social contract succeeded in promoting social stability.
    • During the 1960’s and 70’s, Soviet citizens enjoyed the high standards of living.
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  • Social contract created a stable society, but also stagnation.
  • Brezhnev refused to tackle the economic and social issues that led to the reemergence of old problems.
  • Full employment meant that there was huge economic inefficiencies.
    • 20% of employees were being paid but not doing a useful job.
    • Serious labour shortages.
    • 1 million vacancies in Soviet industry in the late 1970’s.
    • Led to lower production rates in some industries.
  • Secondly, female unemployment was on the rise.
    • Problems affected Central Asia and the Caucasus, where employment was focused on mining and heavy industry where women refused employment.
      • 10% of women were unemployed.
  • Finally, in spite of increased spending on health, Soviet health rates declined.
    • Infant mortality rates increased from 3-7% in the 70’s whilst life expectancy went from 68-64 years for men
      • Due to alcoholism.
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  • The model of full employment, social benefits and political conformity promoted social stability.
    • However did lead to economic stagnation.
    • Although standards of living did go up in the 1970’s, the USSR still lagged behind the West significantly.
    • Full employment led to inefficiencies in labour which slowed economic growth.
      • Threatened to lower living standards and therefore undermined Brezhnev’s social contract.
    • Brezhnev’s focus was still on retaining power and creating a stable society to focus on the Social Contract.
  • Therefore, his policies were successful even if they created economic stagnation.
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Women and the family.

Women and the family.

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Changing status of women.

  • Status of women changed throughout Soviet history.
  • Government policy went through a series of phases.
  • Some initiatives were designed to liberate women.
    • On other occasions it was more conservative.
  • Government’s attitudes can be seen through propaganda and women’s changing legal rights.
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Women in government propaganda.

  • Women featured in Soviet iconography.
  • Pictures, photographs, films and statues produced from 1917-85 show how the government’s view of women changed.
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Playing a supporting role, 1917-40.

  • From 1917-40, women tended to play a supporting role in Soviet art.
  • One of the most famous status was called the “Worker and Kolkhoz woman” (1937) made under Stalin’s period.
  • 25 meters high made of stainless steel which comprised of two figures, a male factory worker holding a hammer and female collective farm worker holding a sickle.
  • Soviet propaganda posters of this period often contained a male industrial worker and a female peasant representing the nation.
  • Distinction between the two different types of worker emphasised the difference in role between women and men.
  • According to Lenin, industrial workers and peasant both played an important role in the overthrowal of capitalism.
    • However, industrial workers played the leading and decisive role, whereas peasants were only supporting roles.
    • Therefore, by depicting men as industrial workers and women as peasants gave people the impression that men are the leading role in society.
  • From 1917-40, women were much less visible in propaganda than men.
  • During the Civil War, posters were dominated by male soldiers.
    • And during the first FYP, male workers were the focus of posters.
    • Women in posters of this period tended to be either mothers or children.
    • Indicated that women were expected to be maternal figures rather than fighters or workers.
  • Soviet Propaganda ridiculed women and femininity.
    • Sergei Eisenstein’s film “October” in 1928, mocked female soldiers who fought against the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution.
    • Contrasted the masculine and decisive Bolsheviks with their effeminate, dithering political opponents.
  • Broadly, women who feature in Soviet art and propaganda from 1917-40 play similar roles in Russian religious art prior to the revolution, which also represents women as supportive mother figures or weaker than men.
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Women at war, women in space, 1941-64.

  • Women featured heavily in Soviet Propaganda during the Second World War and the Cold War.
  • The poster, the motherland is calling, presented a woman as the symbol of the Russian Nation and celebrated the vital work of women during the war.
  • Still presented women as vulnerable and in need of male protection.
  • After the war, heroic women were presented as symbols of the absolute sexual equality that the Soviet leaders claimed had been achieved following the revolution.
  • Devushkivoiny (girl-warriors) and Frontovishki, women who served on the front line, were a feature of top level speeches, such as Khrushchev’s Secret Speech and of Soviet War films all through till the 1980’s.
  • In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space and the Soviet hero.
  • Educated through Soviet curriculum, she became an engineer and the first female cosmonaut.
    • She was less than “Yuri Gagarin in a skirt” claims the head of the Soviet Space Programme.
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Good mothers and absent mothers, 1964-85.

  • Under Brezhnev, Soviet propaganda took a direction of a traditional view of women,
    • Propaganda emphasised that a true Soviet woman should be an exemplary worker and caring wife and mother.
    • The tone of propaganda became even more conservative in the 70’s.
  • Falling birth rates led to a campaign encouraging women to have babies.
  • Brezhnev’s prenatal campaign emphasised natural difference between the genders.
    • Stressed the women’s abilities to nurture and “natural” need for a strong man.
  • By the late 1970’s, the prenatalist message was coupled with criticism of women who neglected their children by going to work.
  • Brezhnev’s campaigns, working women were responsible for juvenile, delinquency, rising crime and family breakups.
    • Campaign reaffirmed by the last three Soviet leaders.
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  • Soviet Propaganda did not show consistency on the views of women, it did reflect the shifting of government policy regarding women’s roles.
  • It did however, reflect the concerns of the male-dominated leadership of the Soviet Union, who were suspicious of women and were therefore dedicated to keep female liberation within narrow bounds.
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Women at work.

  • Working women became a key feature for Soviet Society in the 1930’s.
  • By 1955, 49% of the Soviet workforce were women.
    • Soviet government argued that sexual equality had been achieved.
  • Promotions for women were rare, significant inequalities in pay.
  • Women in towns found more opportunities than in the countryside.
    • Played a minor role in the government throughout the whole period.
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Working in towns.

  • “Zhenotdel”, the women’s department of the Communist Party during the Civil War, recruited women from towns to fill jobs in nursing and food distribution.
  • Alexandra Kollontai, head of the Zhenotdel believed that this reflected a natural division of labour whereby women should lead the way in nurturing roles and men should fight and rebuild industry once the war had finished.
  • Under the NEP, women’s opportunities in factories were limited.
  • NEP led to widespread unemployment, Female prostitution was widespread, legal way of making money.
  • During the 1920’s, it is estimated that 39% of men used prostitutes, therefore a large market.
  • Women joined the industrial labour force in large numbers due to the demands of the FYP.
  • In 1928, the last year of the NEP, only 3 million women worked in Soviet industry.
  • By 1940 that figure leapt to 13 million.
  • By 1940, 41% of workers in heavy industry were women.
  • Soviet authorities recognised the importance of women in industry and therefore were allocated in an increasing number of places in higher or technical education to women:
    • From 20% in 1929, to 40% in 1940.
  • Still significant pay differentials.
  • Women doing the same jobs as men were only paid around 60% of men’s wages.
    • Inequalities.
  • Women were subjected to verbal and physical abuse in factories.
  • Men refused to work on teams with women.
    • Women brought bad luck.
  • Women’s participation in the FYP, laid the foundation for greater participation in the Second World War.
  • After the new war trends developed in terms of women working in the cities.
  • During the 60’s, around 45% of industrial jobs went to women.
    • Women tended to be restricted to:
      • Production line in light industry, intensive but low levels of skill, like textile industry.
      • Heavy manual labour, low skilled.
  • Change from the period of 1928-41.
    • Under Stalin, women tended to do all kinds of factory work but paid less.
  • Women were paid less due to doing less skilled work.
  • Senior jobs within light industry such as the job of foreman, went to men.
  • From 1959-65, less than 1% of factory foreman went to women.
  • During the 60’s, another form of employment opened up, such as clerical work.
  • 74% of administrative jobs were women. (1960’s)
  • In towns, around 50% of working women worked in clerical positions, the other in industry.
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BAM recruitment.

  • The mid 1970’s saw another major female recruitment campaign.
  • In 1974, Brezhnev created the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM)
    • A 4324-KM rail line across the north of the USSR.
    • Brezhnev was aware of the fact that male workers and admins who staffed the project would want female workers as company.
      • Therefore he initiated the campaign to recruit women from urban centres in their mid 20’s.
  • Bam was an opportunity for women to gain liberations through work and building new homes in the north of the USSR.
  • BAM stated that finding men would be easy.
  • BAM construction was male dominated and therefore the females were publicity implied, have the pick of men.
    • A contrast to a male minority in Soviet society.
  • BAM publicity also emphasised other traditional aspects of womanhood.
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Educating female workers.

  • Widely available for women in cities.
  • By the 1960’s, women were 1/2 of the Soviet Union’s graduates.
    • As a consequence of women’s education, by the 1970’s, professions were dominated by women, 75% of employees were women in universities.
    • Pay scales in the feminine industries were less than in factories.
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Working in the countrysides.

  • From 1920-40, a high proportion of women workers in agriculture.
  • Women performed a “triple shift” in agriculture.
  • Provided labour on farms.
  • Responsible for household chores.
  • Some women on collective farms got a high social status.
  • Female tractor drivers earned a higher wage.
  • During the NEP, there was only eight female tractor drivers in the whole of the Soviet Union.
    • Figure increased to 50,000 by 1940.
  • Female tractor drives made up less than 0.5% of the total rural female population.
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Women and the Virgin Lands.

  • Women were targeted in the campaign to recruit volunteers to work on the Virgin Lands.
    • Started in 1954, and finished in 1974.
    • Focused on specific roles, women required to act as milkmaids, gardeners and start families.
    • Not recruited to work with machinery or drive tractors, but be manual labourers.
  • Tended to be the lowest paid, and do the most demanding jobs.
  • 6400 recruited in August 1958, less than 450 found employment in well-paying jobs.
  • Wage of haymakers and milkmaids were about 15% of male tractor operators.
  • Women from Moscow were the most likely to complain about working conditions, used to a more comfortable life in the capital.
  • Women horrified by the immorality of the women from Moscow who listened to Western songs.
  • Very few stayed in the Virgin Lands as they were often subjected to sexual abuse and ****.
  • Sexual violence was common.
  • Farm managers would blame women and force rapists to marry their victims.
  • Mechanisation of farming, was an important goal of the Sixth Five Year Plan and the SYP was supposed to make life for women on farms easier, but the machinery was scarce on farms.
    • Therefore, collective farms needed to give men more priority in terms of access to machines.
      • Mechanisation failed to make a difference to the lives of women.
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Farming in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

  • Continued to work in Law-Status/Pay jobs in the 1970’s-80’s.
  • By 1983, 65% of work on farms still non-mechanised.
  • As industry expanded, men left collective farms for factory jobs.
  • By 1970, 72% of the lowest paid Soviet Farmers were women.
  • Majority of women in Soviet agriculture worked in low paid jobs.
  • Professional opportunities were very limited.
  • **** was common amongst women in farms.
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Fighting for the motherland.

  • Women played a central role in the Soviet armed forces during WW2, in 1941, fighting was still a man’s job and women who tried to enlist were refused.
  • By 1945, 800,000 women served in combat roles.
  • Female fighters joined the three female flying regiments.
  • Regarded with disdain by male pilots initially, however, as the war progressed, achievements of women were considerable.
    • Lydia Litvyak shot down 12 German planes before being killed in combat.
  • According to female accounts, soldiers and pilots enjoyed the respect of their male colleagues, sexual harassment was rare.
  • Women were demobilized following the War.
  • Wartime sexual equality was short-lived.
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Female Party members.

  • Consistently under represented in highest levels of the Party.
  • Women tended to get jobs in government that reflected traditional stereotypes of their role.
  • During Civil War, female party members worked in the Commissariat of Social Welfare, health or education, whereas male Party members worked in government departments who dealt with the economy or military.
  • Female Communists did not play a role in the Party’s most senior committees.
  • Only 5% of delegates in the Party Congress in 1918, were women.
  • In the first ten years of the revolution, female participation stagnated.
  • 10% women were party members.
  • By 1928, that was 12%.
  • Female party members expected to play a homemaking role in the 1930’s.
  • Male party members encourage to no longer employee nannies.
  • Female Party members who married were expected to be wives and mothers, and join the Wife Activists.
  • From 1953, women played a larger role in Soviet Politics.
  • As in 1920’s, women were expected to contribute to politics that concerned health, social services, education.
    • Natural roles as nurturers.
    • Women played big roles in the local soviets.
    • Soviets themselves played a very minor role.
  • Large numbers of women joined the Part after 1953, from 1956-83, the proportion of women in the Party increased from 19.7% to 26%.
  • An increase in participation of women in the workforce and even a more educated population did not lead to a rise in the proportion of women in government.
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The Soviet Family.

 The Soviet Family.

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Families and women in the 1920’s.

  • Lenin’s government did not have a consistent view on the family.
  • They believed that the family was an oppressive social organisation.
  • Believed that replacing the family with communal living and monogamous marriage with free love was the right way to go.
  • Family encouraged selfishness and individualism.
  • Lenin and Trotsky were more conservative.
    • Lenin was critical of free love.
    • Lenin recognized the abuses that existed in traditional marriage and the need for reform to marriage and divorce laws.
  • Immediately following the revolution, steps were taken to reform family and liberate women.
  • Zhenotdel worked with the government departments to advance women’s rights:
    • Education:
      • Zhenotdel worked with the Commissariat of Education to introduce co-education.
      • Also established women’s reading rooms in urban centres where women could study.
      • Established educational schemes for women in factories and set quotas to ensure that women were represented at all levels of education.
      • By 1930, 28% of university students were women, compared to 12% in Germany.
    • Legal rights:
      • Zhenotdel collaborated with the commissariat of Justice to enshrine women’s rights in law.
      • Women were given a legal right to equal for pay for work, and equal voting rights.
    • Reproductive rights:
      • Soviet Union was the first country to legalise abortion on demand.
      • Contraception was also legal during the 1920’s.
    • Marital lights:
      • During the 1920’s, “postcard divorce” was legal:
        • This was where one partner was allowed to end a marriage by simply sending a letter.
      • Government looked at marriage as a simply contract easily dissolved by either husband or wife.
    • Sexual rights:
      • Lesbianism was not criminalised before, and never regarded as a crime.
      • Prostitution was legalised.
      • Zhenotdel worked with the Commissariat of health to offer medical support to prostitutes.
  • Some of these policies quickly became irrelevant or counterproductive.
  • Legal and political equality was meaningless because democracy was suspended in mid-1918 and abolished in 1921.
  • Legal rights were difficult to uphold because Soviet law courts had very little authority.
  • Men made the use of the new divorce rights to divorce women soon after they became pregnant.
  • From 1917-28, 70% of divorces were initiated by men.
    • Left women without a home, unable to work and therefore no income.
  • By 1925, experiments in communal living had ended.
  • Kollontai’s vision of the “withering away of the family” had been abandoned.
  • The 1926 Marriage code reflected the official belief in traditional family.
  • Made adoption easier. (Civil War)
  • Zhenotdel was unwilling to help women who were victims of sexual harassment.
    • Soviet law did not recognise sexual harassment as a crime
    • Women organised themselves to protest against sexual abuse.
      • In Leningrad in walkouts.
    • Male party officials viewed striking women as troublemakers and complains from women as anti-Soviet activity.
  • No changes were made and sexual-harassment continued.
  • Under the NEP, the government did not fund crèches or day care facilities.
  • Money was used to modernise industry, not to help women.
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Great Retreat, 1936-53.

Stalin’s key aim was to increase birth rates and cut divorce rates, he initiated legal changes:

  • Abortion was criminalised unless the life of the pregnant woman was in danger.
  • Contraception was banned.
  • Male homosexuality was criminalised.
    • Punishable by five years in a labour camp.
  • Lesbianism treated as a disease, lesbian women could be subjected to hypnotherapy in an attempt to “cure” them.
  • Sex outside marriage was made as a social stigma.
  • Farm managers would to “medical virginity checks” on women to enforce sexual abstinence.
  • Divorce was made expensive and difficult to obtain.
    • A first divorce cost one week’s wages.
  • Fathers were required to pay a minimum of 1/3 of their income to pay for their former wives to support their children.
  • Men would pay 60% of their income if they left three or more children.
  • Stalin adopted a pronatalist policy of offering financial incentives for women to have children.
  • Women with 7 children could receive 7000 roubles a year for 5 years.
  • Figure increased to 5000 for 11 children.
  • Policies were backed by the media which exposes unfaithful men.
  • In addition to working on collective farms, or in Soviet industry, women were expected to perform essential family labour.
  • Stalin emphasised the importance of stable families, and heterosexual relationships.
  • These grounds formed the basis of a successful socialist society.
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Women and the family, 1953-85.

  • Women’s rights were re-emphasised in the years following Stalin’s death.
  • Khrushchev focused on women’s rights in the context of traditional families.
    • Generally Khrushchev wanted women to continue to perform their traditional roles as wives and mothers.
    • Wanted to make these roles easier.
  • Khrushchev’s government made attempts to address the problems facing women in the Soviet Union.
    • By 1956, several national women’s magazines including Woman Worker, Peasant Woman, Women of the World, and Soviet Woman.
  • These magazines showed lives and exposed inequalities that continued in Soviet Society.
    • Poorly paid jobs and the “double shift” and the government’s failure to support women with families.
  • Khrushchev also aware of the impact that the Second World War had on women.
  • War led to the death of over 10 million men.
  • As a result, the proportion of men in the Soviet society grew from 52% in 1939, to 55% in 1959.
  • War led many lone-parent families
  • Khrushchev introduced a series of policies to change the legal status of women and make family life easier for married and unmarried women:
    • In 1955, abortion was legalised.
    • In 1956 state paid maternity leave increased from 77 days to 112 days.
    • The Sixth FYP stated in 1956, containing a commitment to improve in every way the working and living conditions of women workers, expansion of crèches and childcare facilities.
    • SYP aimed to eliminate the “double shift” by bringing in convenience food and mass-produced clothing and ended the need for women to cook and sew.
    • The SYP aimed to make refrigerators more widely available, ending the need for daily shopping trips.
  • In spite of these changes, problems continued, contraception remained hard to acquire.
  • Letters to women’s magazines showed that crèches opened late and closed early so that women were still unable to work full days.
  • Some employers refused to recognise the new legal entitlements with maternity leave.
  • Domestic supplies were less helpful than anticipated and less widely available.
  • Surveys continued to show that women spent more time doing household chores than men and therefore had less access to leisure and education than men.
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Women under Brezhnev.

  • Brezhnev continued to stress the centrality of the family to Soviet life.
  • Under Brezhnev much less focus was devoted to improving the status of women.
  • Officially, the government proclaimed that sexual equality had been achieved.
  • The lack of women in the most senior jobs in industry, agriculture and government was explained by the women’s natural desire to focus on family.
  • Government banned information about women’s campaigns in the West being reported in the Soviet press to suppress debates about women’s roles and sexual dominance.
  • Brezhnev thought of women as unskilled workers whose main goal was to have kids.
  • Male homosexuality was a crime, lesbianism was still a mental disorder, and sex was for reproduction not pleasure.
  • Government did nothing to address sexual inequality in domestic labour.
  • Brezhnev did introduce some reforms to make women’s lives easier, by lowering the pension age for women from 60-55.
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  • Soviet family policy changed over the period.
  • As family policy changed, so did the status of women.
  • Initial attempts were made to ensure the liberation of women were replaced by a more conservative policy.
  • In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, there was a renewed attempt to ensure liberation for women.
  • Khrushchev’s campaigns never questioned the basic nature of family or the assumption that would should be responsible for childcare.
  • Brezhnev’s policies towards family hardened once again.
    • Women having children over working.
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Education and young people.

Education during a period of transition.

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Goals of education.

  • Communists tended to believe that education was important.
  • Lenin believed that a high level of education, with basic literacy, was an essential part of building socialism.
  • Socialism required industrialisation which required a well-educated workforce who could understand the complex process of industry.
  • Education served the long-term goals of the revolution by laying the foundations for industrialisation.
  • Other Communists like Lunacharsky, believed that the primary goal of education was to allow the individual students to flourish.
    • He believed that therefore, the revolution should liberate the student, rather than education serving the goals of the revolution.
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Problems of education.

  • Questions raised about education:
    • Should Communists continue with traditional forms of education or create a new kind of revolutionary education?
    • Should Communists work with educated people even though they were part of the original elite?
    • How should Communists educated the millions of workers with little to no formal education?
  • Questions were complicated by the practical problems of organising education, such as:
    • Low levels of literacy, only around 32% of the population could read and write by 1914.
    • Educational inequalities, Russians tended to be better educated than non-Russian.
      • Urban education > Rural education.
  • Practical problems and ideological debates made things even more complication by the notion that after 1918, Russia was in a state of transition rather than an actual socialist state.
  • Therefore, some Communists argued that in the short term, compromises were vital between socialist principles and the need to rebuild society after the Civil War.
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Unified labour schools.

  • In October 1918, the Soviet Government issued a decree with reforms which:
    • Established unified labour schools to provide free polytechnic education to all children aged 8-17
    • Banned religious instruction in schools.
    • Introduced co-educational schools, ending gender segregation of schooling.
    • Abolished corporal; punishment, homework and exams.
    • “Promised” free breakfast for schoolchildren and free medical exams.
    • Education became compulsory.
  • Secondary schooling designed to be vocational.
  • Government proposed the creation of factory schools or professional schools where people learnt about skills required to work in factories.
  • Lunacharsky favoured progressive teach methods based on the theories of John Dewey.
    • Learning through play rather than textbooks.
  • In reality, schooling fell short of Lunacharsky’s vision in the early years of the revolution.
  • Under the conditions of the Civil War, there was insufficient resources to invest into the education system.
  • Free compulsory education not actually achieved.
  • Schools did not have resources to provide free meals or medical check-ups.
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Education under the NEP.

  • NEP was a period of compromise.
  • Affected education as well as the economy.
  • Educational provision declined in the first years.
  • Financial issues meant cuts in educational provision:
    • Forced some schools to close to save money.
    • Introduced fees to pay for primary and secondary education for all except the poorest children.
    • Scrapped plans to open up children’s homes for the 7 million children orphaned due to the Civil War.
  • In the first 18 months of the NEP, the number of children in education halved, as did the number of schools.
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Primary education.

  • As the economy stabilised, the education system expanded.
  • From 1927, the fees for primary schools were abolished.
    • From then on, the majority of children received a four year primary education.
  • By 1928, about 60% of Soviet children of primary school age were in school.
    • 10% more than before the revolution.
  • Still inequalities in the education system.
    • Such as in towns and cities, children in education tended to get the full four years of primary education, whereas in the countryside, children were unlikely to complete even three years of education.
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Secondary education.

  • Took a new direction during the 1920’s.
  • Under the NEP, education was funded locally rather than by the Commissariat for Education.
  • Central government had difficulty controlling the curriculum.
  • Rather than follow the educational programme of polytechnic schools that had been outlined in 1918, local soviets took over existing schools by the Tsarist regime.
  • Schools tended to be dominated by children of the wealthy:
    • 97% of students paid fees.
  • Around 90% of middle-class students started secondary school and only 3% actually finished.
  • Vast majority of teachers in the former Tsarist schools were trained before the revolution, therefore they continued to teach in the traditional way.
  • Their approach to subjects like history remained traditional.
  • Government wanted teachers to teach the history of class struggle and of the working class.
  • Teachers ignored this and continued to teach the achievements of the Tsar.
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The reduction of illiteracy.

  • Lenin believed that ending illiteracy was crucial to building socialism.
  • Tackling it was a central educational aim.
  • Decree on Illiteracy produced in 1919 which required to all illiterate people between the ages of 8-50 to learn to read and write.
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The Red Army.

  • Trotsky also shared Lenin’s view about the importance of literacy.
  • As a leader of the Red Army, he introduced education for all soldiers.
  • As a result, literacy rates increased from 50% in 1918 to 86% in 1921.
  • Campaigns continued after the War was won.
  • By 1925, 100% of soldiers in the Red Army could read and write.
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Literacy and the Civil War.

  • Outside the Red Army, the Civil War saw a decline in literacy.
  • Communist Government published 6.5 million textbooks containing simple rhymes that taught people the advert.
  • Rise in the number of people who could identify letters.
  • This campaign did not lead to an increase in genuine literacy.
  • Lunacharsky also set up a network of reading rooms in towns and villages.
    • Six week courses in reading and writing.
    • Designed to “liquidate” illiteracy.
  • Literacy campaigns set back by these factors:
    • Majority of teachers in 1917 did not support the regime.
      • Advocated Western-Style democracy.
      • Teachers went on protest at the new government.
    • Government prioritised military victory over education.
    • Many schools requisitioned by the army and turned into stores or barracks.
      • Education ceased.
    • War economy did not produce or distribute educational products.
      • Schools had one pencil for every 60 students by 1920.
    • War disrupted education across the country.
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Literacy and the NEP.

  • Economic conditions initially led to the scaling back of the already small literacy campaign.
  • To save money, the government closed down 90% of the reading room network which was established during the Civil War
  • In the mid 1920’s, there was a new campaign to liquidate illiteracy.
  • In May 1925, the Government announced an initiative to ensure that all adults were literate by October 1927, the tenth anniversary of the revolution.
  • Workers set up libraries and reading groups in factories to educate workers.
    • Minor success, such as  metal Workers Union reporting an increase in literacy from 86% in 1925 to 96% in 1926.
  • Educating peasants was harder.
    • Goal of the campaign pushed back till 1933.
    • Literacy rates overall improved from 38% in 1914 to 55% in 1928/
  • Achievement was very uneven and the rates of illiteracy began to increase after the illiteracy liquidation campaign had ended in 1927.
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Stalin’s war against illiteracy.

  • Under Stalin, the campaign against illiteracy was relaunched.
  • The Sixteenth Party Congress of 1930 adopted new targets to eliminate illiteracy and ensure that primary school was compulsory during the Five Year Plans.
  • Government recruited 3 million volunteers from the Komsomol to educate the workers and peasants.
  • Campaign was organised in a military fashion and the volunteers were called:
    • “Cultural soldiers”
    • Tasked with fighting a “cultural war” against illiteracy.
    • Took place in the middle of Stalin’s campaign to collectivise agriculture.
    • As a result, teachers were attacked and associated as government workers.
    • 40% of teachers attacked
      • Some teachers locked in schools and were then set on fire.
  •  Teachers were also poorly equipped and poorly supported.
  • Often had no textbooks or writing materials.
  • Little to offer the peasants who turned up to schools.
  • Unable to provide school meals for free.
  • In spite of the unpromising start, the campaign was successful.
    • During the Five-Year-Plan, 90% of Soviet adults had attended a literacy course.
    • Courses were not wholly successful.
    • But 68% of people were literate by the end of the FYP.
      •  A good improvement from 1928.
    • By 1939, over 94% of Soviet citizens were literate.
  • Literacy rates reflected the inequalities in society.
  • Whilst around 97% of men were literate and only 90% of women could read and write.
  • Although literacy rates shot up, no focus on the full educational attempt to encourage students to read or write for pleasure.
  • Mass literacy was still a major success of Stalin’s first decade in power.
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State control of the curriculum, 1932-53.

  • Under Stalin the government established stronger control over the curriculum.
  • From 1932-35, the government ordered extensive changes to what was allowed to be taught in schools.
  • Changes were a response to criticisms of the People’s Commissariat for Education and educational standards in schools in the 1920’s.
  • Used to strengthen the future workforce to become disciplined farmers, or factory workers.
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Educating workers.

  • Education under Stalin was expected to create young workers into good workers.
  • In 1931, a decree ordered curriculum, to abolish the polytechnic focus created in 1918.
  • Focused on key subjects such as reading, writing, science and maths.
    • Would form the basis of a socialist education system.
  • Aim was to ensure all people had a foundational level of education required for factories or farms.
  • The progressive methods created in the 1920’s abolished.
  • Stalin’s educational system stressed regimented discipline.
  • A 1932 decree introduced new standards of discipline.
  • Teachers required to ensure that students actually attended and were punctual.
    • Required to do their homework.
  • Students also expelled from school for misconduct.
  • Discipline was supposed to prepare students for the harsh labour discipline in the Soviet factories.
  • In 1933, textbooks were launched to support the new curriculum.
  • In 1935, a system of national examinations were introduced.
    • Grade students for management posts.
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Educating citizens

  • The Decree on the Teaching of Civic History, in May 1934, focused on history lessons and new Soviet history textbooks focused on the achievements of the great men like Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great.
  • Emerged at the same time as the emergence of the Cult of Stalin which focused on the Great Russian leaders.
    • Became a feature of Soviet culture to respect Stalin and love their countries.
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Stalinist teaching methods.

  • Teachers were encouraged to set an example for their students by emulating Sakharov.
  • For example in 1936, Olga Fedorovna pledged that all her students would gain excellent grades and when she fulfilled this, she was able to  get a media campaign made for her as an example for all Soviet teachers.
  • Teaching reflected the aims of the Soviet Union in Stalin’s economy.
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Educational expansion.

  • The expansion of primary education continued under Stalin.
  • Government set a target that 100% of children aged from 8-12 would be enrolled for primary schools by 1932.
  • The government achieved it for 95% of children.
    • Even if they missed their target, they still increased from 60% in 1928.
  • Fees were still a part of the education system outside primary school.
  • Stalin’s key objective in the 1930’s was industrialisation.
  • Government unwilling to increase expenditure on education beyond what was required for a workforce that could work the government factories.
  • For most workers, primary education was sufficient.
  • Fees were maintained in the higher levels of education to keep costs down.
  • Also had limited access.
  • Communist Party and trade unions offered scholarships and grants to help students access higher education.
  • System favoured the sons and daughters of Party officials.
  • Scheme part of Stalin’s broader policy of rewarding loyal Party members.
  • Despite educational fees, higher education grew significantly.
  • Number of universities increased by 800%
    • From 105 in 1914 to 817 in 1939.
    • By 1939, approximately 1.5 million Soviet citizens, 7% of the child population actually completed secondary education.
  • Stalin’s final attempt to ensure discipline at schools arrived in July 1943 when a decree introduced gender segregation into secondary schools.
  • Local soviets encouraged to ensure that male and female students did not share the same buildings.
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Expansion figures continued after WW2.

  • Almost 100% of children aged 8-12 gained the full four years of primary education.
  • Around 65% of children aged 12-17 gained some secondary education.
  • Around 20% of children aged 15-17 completed secondary education.
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Labour Reserve Schools.

  • The Soviet Union established Labour Reserve Schools (LRS)
  • Established by the Minister of Labour in 1940 in order to train young men between the ages of 14-17 to become specialised in industry.
  • The LRS were a form of industrial conscription.
  • Quotas for compulsory recruitment were issued.
  • Recruits were then enrolled in training courses from 6 months to 2 years.
    • Followed by a four year work placement.
  • For the period of their education, the young men were provided with the accommodation and food but were not paid.
  • The LRS became vital during the Second World War as it played an important role in Soviet Industry.
  • Young men could avoid being thrown into the Army by joining the LRS and becoming specialised in factories for War production.
  • Conditions in the LRS were harsh and students could face sentences for deserting the LRS.
  • During the Fourth and Fifth Five Year Plans, the LRS played an important part providing skilled labour for economic reconstruction.
    • The LRS recruited 4.2 million young people and trained them to work in metallurgy, electricity production, industrial and military construction.
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University education under Stalin.

  • Stalin’s Great Turn required expansion of Soviet Universities.
  • During the NEP, the Soviet Industry had been run by the Bourgeois.
    • People born into privileged classes prior to the revolution.
  • Stalin wanted to replace these people who were seen as enemies of socialism.
  • Therefore the Soviet higher education had to be expanded.
  • Stalin launched the new policy in 1928, and the number of university enrolments quickly increased.
    • In 1927, enrollments totaled 170,000.
    • By 1932 this grew to 500,000 and in 1940, the number of enrolments stood at 812,000.
  • Between 1936 and 1938 a new exam system was introduced along with new standards of discipline.
  • By the late 1930’s, the University staff who had been employed before 1928 were purged and replaced with Red Specialists.
  • Despite the purges, the number of academics increased from:
    • 29,000 in 1927 to 50,000 in 1940.
  • University courses reflected the needs of the economy, such as the significant expansion in courses that dealt with construction, transport and factory production.
  • Second World War decimated the university sector. and by 1944, only 2270,000 students remained in university.
  • However by 1953, the university sector had been reconstructed and with approximately 1.5 million students at Soviet Universities.
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Educational reform and expansion, 1953-85.

Educational reform and expansion, 1953-85

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Khrushchev’s reorganisation and expansion.

  • Between 1923-1953, schools in towns and cities improved considerably.
  • Schools were often small and lacked resources.
  • Teachers often were unwilling to give up the relative comfort of Soviet towns to work in the country.
  • Khrushchev ordered the merger of smaller country schools and the establishment of new schools that would offer the full ten years of compulsory education.
  • This scheme only affected certain areas and the majority of country schools remained small and poorly resourced.
  • Khrushchev doubled the number of schools in towns and cities.
  • Also invested in teachers rose from 1.5 million in 1953 to 2.2 million in 1964.
  • The level of teachers’ education also improved under Khrushchev.
    • In 1953, only 19% of teachers had university education, which increased to 40% in 1964.
  • Most important reform of improving access to education was the abolition of fees for students attending secondary education and university in 1956.
  • 1959 led to the establishment of special funds to help maintain poor students who attended secondary schools.
  • Fund paid for clothes, footwear, textbooks and school dinners.
    • As a result of these reforms, proportion of 17 year olds who completed secondary school rose from 20% in 1953, to about 75% in 1959.
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Educational reform, 1956.

  • By 1956, Khrushchev believed that the Soviet curriculum was in need of reform.
  • Soviet curriculum stayed pretty much the same from 1931-1955.
    • Of the 61 textbooks in use in 1958, 46 had been initially written in 1953.
  • Khrushchev’s 1956 reforms introduced polytechnic education.
    • Reflected the needs of Khrushchev’s industrial policy.
      • Whereas Stalin needed disciplined and literate workers, Khrushchev’s new light industries needed workers with more sophisticated skills.
  • Reforms also reflected the impact of the War.
  • High mortality rates in young men led to a shortage of skilled labour in the 1950’s.
  • Education became more practical as result of the reforms.
  • Evident from the amount of time in class devoted to different subjects.
  • In addition to the changes in the amount of time given to different subject areas, education was made much more practical by increasing the practical focus of science and maths teaching.
  • Schools were expected to organise trips to factories as well as farms.
    • Even work experience placement.
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The 1958 reforms.

  • Khrushchev’s reforms were set out in the December 1959 Education Law.
  • The Law:
    • Made education compulsory from 7-15.
    • Required schools to offer 11-year programmes rather than 10 year programmes so students could stay on to the age of 19.
    • Restructured education for students from 16-19.
      • Education would be completed through vocational and school education
      • Work experience in farms or factories.
    • Ensured the most academically gifted students would be given places at special schools that focused on academic education.
    • Introduced a new course, “the fundamentals of political knowledge” for all 15 year olds to understand the benefits of the Soviet system.
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Final reforms.

  • Khrushchev continued to try to reform education.
  • His final reforms were part of his wider policy of De-Stalinisation:
    • Stalinist discipline was relaxed in November 1960.
      • Abolished rules about correct sitting and standing postures.
    • In 1961, Khrushchev ordered a new emphasis on learning MFL.
      • Reflected a rejection of Stalin’s emphasis on cultural isolation.
    • Requirement to set homework was also dropped.
    • Continuous assessment replaced final exams.
    • In July 1962, teachers lost the right to expel student who underachieved.
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Impact of Khrushchev’s reforms.

  • Unpopular and a failure.
  • Most parents wanted an academic education rather than vocational courses.
  • View was common amongst Communist Party members.
  • Reforms never fully implemented.
  • By 1962, when all schools were supposed to offer courses to students up to the age of 19, only 65% of schools had done it.
    • Slackening of discipline was ignored by teachers
    • Continued setting of homework.
    • Continued Stalinist discipline.
    • Curriculum reforms were not implemented in 47%
  • Most successful aspects of his reforms were that they improved education for the academic elite.
  • Reforms were welcomed by Party officials.
  • Khrushchev’s reforms didn’t address the fundamental flaw in the education system, such as the poorly maintained school buildings and the shortages of teachers.
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Repealing Khrushchev’s reforms.

  • Educational priority of the post-Khrushchev leadership was to repeal Khrushchev’s reforms.
  • Between 1964- and 1966 the Council of Ministers:
    • Ended 11 year schooling policy in favour of a gradual shift from 8-year schooling to 10 year schooling.
    • Drew up a temporary curriculum to restore the focus on academic education.
    • Ended vocational training.
    • Abandoned compulsory secondary education, replacing it with a target that 100% of children would complete secondary education by 1970.
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Slowing expansion.

  • Expansion of secondary schools slowed down from 1966, by 1976 only 60% of students finished secondary education.
  • Number of teachers remained stable.
    • However, was continued increase in their level of qualification
    • By 1978, almost 70% of teachers had a university education.
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Small-scale reforms.

  • Brezhnev introduced some small-scale reforms in the 1970’s.
  • The School Statue of September 1970 required textbooks to be updated to reflect the latest information of the sciences.
  • The Fundamental Law on Soviet Education of 1973, consolidated the existing approach to education in a single document.
  • During the 1970’s there were increased attempts were made to increase peasant participation in schooling to provide hot school meals.
  • Free meals were available to poor students.
  • Textbooks were made free of charge.
  • Curriculum remained largely unchanged under Brezhnev.
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University education, 1953-85.

  • Universities were the real success of the Communist Education system.
  • Between 1953 and 1980, student members in higher education grew from about 1.5 million to over 5 million.
    • Around 19% of the population.
  • Growth in student members took place in 1958.
  • Curriculum expanded to reflect the diverse needs of the Soviet light industry.
    • New course such as electronics and radio, construction, agricultural chemistry and machine building.
  • Attempts to serve the diverse communities that comprised the USSR.
  • For example in 1954, Khrushchev began the building of five new Universities to serve students from non-Russian ethnic backgrounds.
  • Continued by Brezhnev by founding 18 Universities in Kazakhstan.
  • Soviet authorities were concerned about the impact of high levels of education, fearing that advanced study would lead to political non-conformity.
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