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Title:Spontaneity by command: Soviet state-society relations under Gorbachev and the emergence of the Russian environmental movement
Author(s):Einlay, James Michael
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kanet, Roger E.
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Modern
Political Science, General
Environmental Sciences
Abstract:The reform process begun by Gorbachev in 1985 and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union present us with intriguing analytical challenges. A widely accepted explanation for the course of events which unfolded under Gorbachev stresses the central role that a modern and increasingly restive post-Stalinist society played in forcing the Soviet leadership to initiate reforms. Once liberalization of the system loosened the strictures on society, social pressures forced the pace and scope of future reforms.
This project rejects such an explanation of Gorbachev's reforms as fundamentally flawed. It is argued here that the Soviet state and not society has to be recognized as the source of Gorbachev's reforms. In part, the explanation for the political and social liberalization instituted by Gorbachev related to the effort by reformers to use society as an ally to "shake-up" bureaucratic opposition to economic reform. But liberalization also represented the leadership's strategy for dealing with the devastating effects that seventy years of communist rule had had on society: pervasive apathy, torpor, and social pathologies of epic proportions. This situation represented a crisis which not only threatened the system's ability to function, but which also challenged its very viability. The need for dealing with this social crisis coupled with the strategy of trying to mobilize independent social actors in support of reform helps to explain both the rationale and the dynamic of the political and social liberalization process. To test the validity of this framework, this project uses the Russian environmental movement as a case study.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Einlay, James Michael
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624345
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624345

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