The Socio-Cultural Process in the USSR in 1950-1980

The Socio-Cultural Process in the USSR in 1950-1980

Igor Asmarov (Voronezh State Institute of Arts, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9985-2.ch007
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These four decades gave the USSR new discoveries in the sphere of cultural creativity and the growth of the military and economic power of the country, including the Soviet Union republics of the USSR. The social and cultural process in the USSR in 1950-1980 proceeded under the strong influence of ideology and the ideological and political conjuncture. Nevertheless, creative thought in the sphere of culture and art in the USSR was alive and even fruitfully developed. The peculiarities of the culture of the USSR of this period consisted in the struggle of the government against deviations from the “tasks of social construction”. The pressure and control from the party were so great that they oppressed the freedom of artists and science. Mass discussions in various branches of science of this time had a negative effect on their participants. The development of culture in the 1960-80s was extremely controversial. Despite the fact that the funds for the development of culture constantly increased, the achievements in culture did not correspond to the financial costs. During this period, the leadership of the USSR began to pay great attention to public education and science.
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The war and repression of the 1930s dealt a heavy blow to the intelligentsia, so in the 1940s and early 1950s the Soviet Union had a huge deficit of specialists with higher and secondary education. The difficulties faced by the sphere of education in the USSR were solved by lowering the educational level. Although teachers and university professors, like all researchers, significantly increased their salaries and provided a number of benefits, their preparation was lower even compared to the 1930s. Most school teachers were trained in short-term courses or in teacher training institutes for a shorter program.

Despite all this, the country switched to universal seven-year education. The lowering of the general educational level subsequently led to crisis phenomena in the science and economy of the Soviet state, but at that time it gave a quick effect, created the illusion of accelerated scientific and technological development of society. In the 1940s and early 1950s, Soviet science and technology achieved a number of successes, primarily in the fields of physics, chemistry, and precision mechanics, but they were mostly aimed at military needs.

In 1949, the atomic bomb was tested in the USSR, intensive research was carried out in the field of chemical and bacteriological weapons.

At the same time, the branches of science that did not have a direct relationship to defense were subjected to harsh pressure and even bans.

If in the development of exact and natural sciences the interference and dictatorship of the party-state apparatus were a brake, then for the humanities they became a catastrophe. For the first post-war decade, in the humanities, not a single serious achievement has emerged, and in the field of literature and art - not a single outstanding work.

The campaign to combat cosmopolitanism, which unfolded in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adversely affected the development of science, literature and art.

Its aim was to denigrate all non-Soviet, non-socialist, to put a barrier between the Soviet people and the achievements of the culture of Western countries. As a result of this campaign, many figures of science and art were repressed, dismissed from their posts and even imprisoned and exiled. The Party and the government openly and actively interfered in the work of writers and artists, which led to a decline in the artistic and ideological level, the formation of mediocre, embellishing the Soviet reality of art.

Soviet composers, writers and poets: D. Shostakovich, S. Prokofiev, A. Khachaturyan, N. Myaskovsky, A. Akhmatova, M. Zoshchenko and others, whose work was referred to the “anti-popular” trend, were persecuted.

All this led to a sharp reduction in the number of new films, plays and art works, to the conscious breakdown of the great Russian artistic tradition of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The culture in the post-war period was heavily influenced by state power. The same influence, however, took place in other periods of Russian history. The war caused considerable damage to the domestic culture, its material base. Thousands of schools, hundreds of universities and museums were destroyed, tens of thousands of books burned or taken out of the country. Many talented scientists, writers, and artists have not returned from the front. The output of specialists in higher education institutions has decreased.

In difficult conditions of the post-war period, the state sought funds for the development of science, public education, and art. The revival of the destroyed centers of culture began immediately after the expulsion of the enemy from the occupied territories and continued in subsequent years.

A characteristic feature of the development of culture in the postwar years was the increased intervention of the party-state apparatus in the cultural life of society. The sphere of ideology was viewed as an ideological front, where the main blow should be directed against the remnants of bourgeois views and adulation of the culture of the bourgeois West, against the departure from Marxism in science, literature and art.

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