PhD candidate, The New School for Social Research
Expected Completion: 2011
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
“Soviet Middle Class and the Twilight of Socialism: Discourses of Politics and Culture in the Two Decades before Perestroika” Areas of Expertise
political, cultural, historical-comparative sociology, social theory
I am a broadly trained sociologist interested in political change and in global affairs. My primary focus at the moment is on the study of political and economic liberalizations and relationships between democracy and capitalism. I seek to understand the variety of origins, pathways, and outcomes of liberalizations that happened in Europe and Eurasia in late 20th century. My work pays a close attention to cultural changes that accompany political and economic transformations in particular historical contexts, but also theorizes about implications of these transformations for capitalism and democracy in the West. Parts of my dissertation have won awards from American Sociological Association’s sections on theory, comparative-historical sociology, and sociology of culture.
My dissertation traces the origins and forms of liberalizations that happened in the Soviet Union during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika to official discourses and everyday practices of the preceding two decades usually know as the “period of stagnation.” Relying on a wide variety of historical sources, I show that alongside and often in the form of traditional communist propaganda the Communist Party of the Soviet Union inadvertently promoted post-collectivist values, as I call them,—appreciation for individuality, self-realization, autonomy, and privacy—in the areas of work, consumption, and leisure. These values, reminiscent of the values of the post–World Was II Western middle class, resonated with a growing segment of the Soviet population (drawn from both urban white- and blue-collar workers), who were, as much as it was possible in the Soviet context of presumed equality, more educated and skilled, better-off financially, upwardly mobile, and consumerist. They not only responded to this new discourse of individualism, independence, and self-actualization by pursuing their own rather than the state’s interests and priorities in and outside of the workplace, but also incorporated it in their criticism of the Soviet regime and socialist ideology. These self-described “lazy, cowardly, and selfish” folks, far from being dissidents, nonetheless contributed to undermining socialist ideology by participating in the “second” economy, “second” culture, and often “second” politics (at times, at the expense of the “first”), which resulted in the emergence of networks autonomous from the state; pluralistic, almost market-like practices in politics, culture, and the economy; and differentiated identities in place of the homogeneous “Soviet Man.” This pluralism was the hallmark of the yet-to-come perestroika.
Instructor, “Classical Sociological Theory,” University of Wisconsi¬n–Madison, Spring 2011
Instructor, “Thinking about Society,” Eugene Lang College, Fall 2001
Teaching Assistant, “Social Thought I: Social Change,” New School for Social Research, Fall 2007, Fall 2006
Teaching Assistant, “World Cultures: Russia Between East and West,” New York University, Spring 2007, Spring 2006
Teaching Assistant, “World Cultures: Russia since 1917,” New York University, Spring 2004, Spring 2003, Spring 2002
“The Soviet Communist Party and the Other Spirit of Capitalism,” forthcoming in Sociological Theory, vol. 28, no. 4, 2010 (PDF)
Review of From Elections to Democracy: Building Accountable Government in Hungary and Poland by Susan Rose-Ackerman, Constellations, vol. 15, no. 4, 2008 (PDF)
“The Soviet Communist Party and the Other Spirit of Capitalism,” forthcoming in Sociological Theory, vol. 28, no. 4, 2010
Review of From Elections to Democracy: Building Accountable Government in Hungary and Poland by Susan Rose-Ackerman, Constellations, vol. 15, no. 4, 2008