Freedom and Control in Modern Society

By Morroe Berger; Theodore Abel | Go to book overview

11
SOCIAL CHANGE IN SOVIET RUSSIA

ALEX INKELES

Even in the case of so imposing, rapid, and extensive a social revolution as that experienced in the Soviet Union, one discerns a host of changes which can be equated with the broader sweep of social change that affected Western society in the last century. In the realm of authority, for example, there has been a shift from traditionally legitimated authority to a system of formal rational- legal authority although with a large admixture of charismatic legitimation. In the economic sphere the transition has been from the predominantly agricultural to the heavily industrialized, with a concomitant change in agriculture from small-scale units and a limited if not primitive technology to large-scale units worked primarily by machine. Accompanying these alterations in the economic structure there has been a characteristic trend in the direction of urbanism, with the development of large-scale urban aggregates. The extended family has been largely broken up, to be replaced by more or less isolated conjugal family units, and women in enormous numbers have been drawn into the occupational system. In interpersonal relations the "familistic," or what Talcott Parsons calls the particularistic, patterns of an earlier era have been ever pushed into the background to be replaced increasingly by formal, impersonal or "universalistic" relationship patterns under the impact of increasing role specialization and spreading bureaucratization and technicization. A relatively stable system of social stratification, based largely on role ascription and traditional criteria for the assignment of prestige, has been replaced by extensive social mobility with status largely assigned on the basis of achievement in turn intimately linked with the attainment of education and technical skill.

In the realm of values and fundamental "life-ways," religion has

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