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Title:Moscow by night: musical subcultures, identity formation, and cultural evolution in Russia, 1977—2008
Author(s):Kveberg, Gregory
Director of Research:Koenker, Diane P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koenker, Diane P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Oberdeck, Kathryn J.; Koslofsky, Craig M.; McKay, John P.; Steinberg, Mark D.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
cultural evolution
Abstract:This dissertation examines the history of musical subcultures in Moscow from 1977 to 2008. It argues that subcultures were not forces for revolutionary change, or natural loci of opposition to the state. Only during the brief period from 1982 to 1984 did the state actively seek to impose a unitary vision of culture on the Soviet Union. Throughout the rest of these three decades, the state allowed a significant range of subcultural expression. This policy won either loyalty or toleration for Brezhnev’s government from a majority of Muscovite subculturalists. It proved similarly successful when re-introduced by Vladimir Putin. This dissertation asserts that this policy of tolerance allowed official culture and subcultures to evolve together in a dialectical process. This work also charts key trends in the development of subcultural identities in Moscow. Subculturalists responded to shifting political and economic situations. They generally greeted the arrival of the market with ambivalence, as many felt that musical legitimacy required artists to eschew commercial success. Subculturalists eagerly embraced the Internet, and used it to form connections to other groups of subculturalists and to archive collective memories. Contact with the west produced a variety of different responses among subculturalists, and these responses speak to larger divisions within Russian society. Some Russians came to resent the west, and sought to distance themselves from western ideas and cultural forms, often including rock music. Others accepted western cultural forms, but crafted content for a specifically Russian audience. A third strain sought to join larger, trans-national subcultural groups. This dissertation contends that subcultural identities can prove to be surprisingly durable. It explores the changing nature of subcultural participation over time, and posits that older individuals may well still consider themselves to be subculturalists, despite no longer acting to display subcultural symbols with any frequency. The Internet has likely increased the durability of subcultural identities, as it allows memories to be archived and shared, and allows subculturalists to use digital means to stay connected to one another and to specific subcultural resources.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012, Gregory R. Kveberg
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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