The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

19
The Academic Elite in the Post-Totalitarian Period

Alexander Boronin

For many years, it was claimed that Soviet science made up between one-fourth and one-third of the world's scientific potential. In 1988, 4.2 million people were employed in research and development (R&D) and supporting services. Of these, 1.5 million were considered scientific personnel. More than half a million people (counted as scientific personnel for statistical purposes) worked in institutes of higher education (IHEs). There were 5,111 scientific institutions (including IHEs) in the country, among them 20 academies and 2,722 scientific research institutes. The collapse of the USSR and the shift to a market economy struck the R&D branch the hardest. It left science at the brink of catastrophe as a result of drastic cuts (tenfold, at least) in funding, the emigration of scientific personnel, and the declining prestige of scientific professions. The survival of science in the new environment depends not only on government policy but also on the scientific community's capacity to restructure itself. The latter would allow the R&D sector to overcome the negative tendencies acquired over the course of many years.

"Overtaking" the West had long dominated government policy on science; the formulation of that policy, the issues concerning the scientific personnel, the determination of priorities, and the distribution of resources for R&D were the prerogatives of the bureaucrats holding power.

It has long been recognized that basic research forms the foundation for creating and disseminating new scientific and technical knowledge. At the present time, society's total outlay appropriated for the intellectual framework supporting economic reproduction substantially exceeds the outlays for material reproduction. Expenditures on scientific research and pilot projects frequently exceed the amount of capi

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