Politics and Society in the USSR

Politics and Society in the USSR

Politics and Society in the USSR

Politics and Society in the USSR

Excerpt

Some justification is perhaps needed to add one more, book to the enormous volume of writing on Bolshevism and Soviet Russia. While there are many excellent books on certain aspects of the USSR, particularly its history and politics, there is nothing which for university students gives an overview including history, politics and sociology. In the study of Soviet Russia, a knowledge of one is crucial to the understanding of another. Though it has been recognised that politics has played an important role in shaping the structure of social institutions such as the family and the school, the more social aspects have generally been neglected at the expense of the political. But they are important and should be studied in their own right and in the way they have developed through time. I have, therefore, tried to provide a textbook which is wider in scope than most others used by students of Soviet society: there is, for example, a discussion of the problems of class and status, the functions of the family, the structure of nationalities and the role of pressure groups in the political process. These topics are included in addition to the traditional study of the Communist Party, the Soviets, the economy, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and the historical background. I have sought to bring together the fruits of research, conducted both in the west and in the USSR, to give a synoptic view of soviet society studied from the viewpoint of the social sciences. While the political process is examined as a political 'system', other more traditional ways of study, such as the description of political 'institutions', have not been excluded. All methods have their merits.

Among the most crucial problems of writing an introductory book about the USSR are those of selection and emphasis. Here the Soviet Union is depicted as a modernising industrial society and those past events and policies have been selected which elucidate the present. I have concentrated more on structures than on personalities and, as political history is well covered in other books, I have minimised it in favour of economic and social history. Though conflict between political elites is studied, the details of personal intrigue between Soviet leaders have been kept to a minimum to the advantage of the study of the social composition of the Communist Party and parliamentary bodies. The particulars of the administrative structure of . . .

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