Onderzoekt en verzamelt de geschiedenis van werk, werkenden en arbeidsverhoudingen wereldwijd

Social and Economic Agency and the Cultural Heritage of the Soviet Past

Social norms and practices, mentalities and attitudes inherited from the Soviet period are commonly perceived as important, yet poorly understood, factors determining the outcome of the process of social transformation currently underway in Russia. The project investigated this cultural heritage of the Soviet past and the mechanisms of transmission involved through a combination of research on the soviet and post-soviet periods examining the ways in which particular modes of behaviour associated with the Soviet past were carried over into post-soviet society and shaped people's actions when confronted with the exigencies and opportunities of life in a new environment.
The project approached these larger questions by focusing on a number of concrete case-studies, some of which focused on situations in which the new environment provided new opportunities, and others on situations where people were thrown back on their initiative in spheres of life where the state had formerly provided important guarantees and assistance.
In summary, the project finds considerable evidence that people's responses to a changing environment are strongly conditioned by past experience and tend to reproduce existing routines and social practices, particularly so in similar circumstances, but also where past experience does not provide them with the necessary instruments to take on new opportunities that present themselves. These findings illuminate the role of non-material and non-institutional factors in the process of post-communist social transformation and contribute to our understanding of the reasons why the swift "transition" which was expected in the early 1990s turned out to be a much more drawn-out and infinitely more complicated process.

Time schedule

October 2005: Start of the project
October 2008: End of the project
October 2010: Collective monography published.

Selected publications

Borodkin, L.I., Kessler, G. and Sokolov A.K. eds., "Sovetskoe nasledstvo". Otrazhenie proshlogo v sotsial'nykh i ekonomicheskikh praktikakh sovremennoi Rossii.. (ROSSPEN, Moskva, 2010)
Sokolov, A.K., "Konstitutsionno-pravovye osnovy obshchestva i istoriko-kul'turnoe nasledie sovetskogo proshlogo v sovremennoi Rossii", in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 37(1) (2010), pp. 1-54.
Smirnova, T.M., "Children's Welfare in Soviet Russia: Society and the State, 1917-1930s", in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 36(2) (2009), pp. 169-181.
Sokolov, A.K., "Konstitutsiia 1936 g. i kul'turnoe nasledie stalinskogo sotsializma", in Sotsial'naya istoriya. Ezhegodnik 2008 (St. Peterburg, 2008), pp. 137-163
Novichenko, I.Iu., "Sovetskaia vlast' i neformal'nye ob"edineniia grazhdan", in Sotsial'naya istoriya. Ezhegodnik 2008 (St. Peterburg, 2008), pp. 164-186
Kessler, G. ed., "Sovetskoe nasledie v sotsial'nykh i ekonomicheskikh praktikakh sovremennoi Rossii", special issue Ekonomicheskaia istoriia. Obozrenie, 14 (2008)
Smirnova, T.M., ""Prekrasneishee v mire zdanie okhrany detstva.": Sovetskaia "detskaia" politika i obshchestvo, 1917-1930 gg.", in Ezhegodnik istoriko-antropologicheskikh issledovanii 2006-2007 (Moskva, 2008), pp. 124-156
Smirnova, T.M., "Deti likholet'ya: Povsednevnaya zhizn' sovetskikh detdomovtsev. 1917 - nachalo 1920-kh gg.", in Materinstvo i detstvo v Rossii XVIII-XXI vv. (GOUVPO "MGUS", Moskva, 2006), Vol. 1, pp. 255-299


The project is a joint programme of the International Institute of Social History, the Department of European Studies of the University of Amsterdam, the Centre for Economic History of Moscow State University and the Institute for General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Research was carried out in Moscow.

International Institute of Social History
Prof. Dr. Jan Lucassen jlu@iisg.nl
Dr. Gijs Kessler gke@iisg.nl

University of Amsterdam
Prof. Dr. Michael J. Wintle
Dr. André W.M. Gerrits

Moscow State University
Prof. Dr. Leonid Borodkin
(Topic: "The Transformation of Industrial Labour in Russia, 1950s-2000")
Dr. Sergey Afontsev
(Topic: "Success and Failure of Household Market Activities. The Role of Soviet Social Heritage in A New Institutional Environment")
Dr. Victoria Tyazhel'nikova
(Topic: "Self-sufficiency Practices of Urban Households, 1960-1990")
Dr. Timur Valetov
(Topic: "Collective Subcontracting in the Soviet Union and Russia, 1960-1990s")
Dr. Andrei Volodin
(Topic: "Labour conflicts in the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, 1960-2000"
Anna Konovalova
(Topic: "Corruption and Bribing in Everyday Life")

Russian Academy of Sciences
Prof. Dr. Andrei Sokolov
(Topic: "Civil Society in the Soviet Union and Russia")
Dr. Irina Novichenko
(Topic: "Public Organisations: Legal Regulation and Social Practice")
Dr. Tatyana Smirnova
(Topic: "Child Care and Motherhood between State Policy and Social Initiative")
Dr. Irina Gordeeva
(Topic: "Soviet Believers and their Struggle for Freedom of Conscience and Religious Rights")


Financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFFI) under grant number 047.017.001

Further information

For further information on the project, please contact Dr. Gijs Kessler: gke@iisg.nl