Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991.
This dissertation explores patriotism, citizenship, and identity in the Soviet Union, arguing that leaders increasingly promoted a notion of civic identity that emphasized citizens’ active participation. People embraced this vision of citizenship across a wide geographical and cultural spectrum, as many identified as citizens of the Soviet Union. Based on a diverse array of citizen letters, educational curricula, civic rituals, oral history interviews, newspaper discourse, and legal documents collected during 27 months of fieldwork in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, this dissertation considers the complexities of citizenship in a multiethnic, multilingual environment.
A wide variety of discourses and practices contributed to a growing sense of community within the Soviet Union. This dissertation emphasizes the evolving discourse of the “Soviet people” (sovetskii narod). When the concept was first invoked in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin, it was closely associated with participatory patriotism, which called upon citizens to sacrifice and contribute to economic and political life. This emphasis encouraged people from a variety of ethnic, linguistic, and social backgrounds to consider themselves first and foremost citizens of the Soviet Union. This identity did not preclude ethnic affiliations but rather saw these as part and parcel of civic identity. In wartime, the stakes of participation increased, as citizens experienced the country as a coherent whole that was engaged in an existential struggle. This experience paved the way for more expansive notions of civic identity under Stalin’s successors, Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, who envisioned a more cooperative relationship between state and society, founded on a recognition of the Soviet people as an existing community.
Citizens experienced, participated in, and developed Soviet identity through a variety of practices and encounters. Most obviously, citizens encountered on a daily basis the omnipresent discourse of the Soviet people in newspapers, political speeches, and rhetoric. A growing sense of identity could also emerge in interactions with the state and fellow citizens, encounters that became normalized as Soviet culture, customs, and civic life became entrenched in everyday life. Citizens, however, did not simply receive and recite messages of identity. They drew on personal observations and experiences to articulate their own understanding of Soviet identity in ways that reinforced and challenged the official discourses. This engagement ensured that dynamic understandings of Soviet identity shaped civic life across the country.
Returning the focus to Soviet identity challenges a widespread belief, most evident in scholarship written outside the Soviet Union and Russian Federation, that the Soviet Union failed to cultivate a distinct sense of civic identity. A powerful recent scholarly focus on the promotion of ethnic identities has driven an underappreciation of the discourses, institutions, and practices that drew citizens closer to…
Advisors/Committee Members: Northrop, Douglas Taylor (committee member), Fehervary, Krisztina E (committee member), Sinha, Mrinalini (committee member), Suny, Ronald G (committee member), Yekelchyk, Serhy (committee member).
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Whittington, A. (2018). Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Michigan. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/146135
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Whittington, Anna. “Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991.” 2018. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan. Accessed March 20, 2019.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Whittington, Anna. “Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991.” 2018. Web. 20 Mar 2019.
Whittington A. Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Michigan; 2018. [cited 2019 Mar 20].
Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/146135.
Council of Science Editors:
Whittington A. Forging Soviet Citizens: Ideology, Identity, and Stability in the Soviet Union, 1930-1991. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Michigan; 2018. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/146135