Re-Examining the History of the Russian Economy. A New Analytic Tool from Field Theory
This book explores the application of field theory (patterns of interaction) to Russian economic history, and how social and political fields mediate the influences of institutions, structures, discourses and ideologies in the creation and dissemination of economic thinking, theory and practice. Using focused cases on Russia's economy from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, Hass and co-authors expand the empirical basis of field studies to provide new material on Russian economic history. The cases are divided into two complementary halves: i) The role of fields of institutions, discourses, and structures in the development of Russian economic thought, especially economic theories and discourses; and ii) The role of fields in the real adoption and implementation of policies in Soviet and Russian economic history.
With developed discussion of fields and field theory, this book moves beyond sociology to demonstrate to other disciplines the relation of fields and field theory to other frameworks and methodological considerations for field analysis, as well as providing new empirical insights and narratives not as well-known abroad.
This chapter takes us to another case of institutional and field turmoil: high Stalinism after World War II. The Blockade of Leningrad had claimed more than one million victims and disrupted the work of economists, especially those at Leningrad State University. Adjusting to post-war life was its own challenge, but by 1948, the Leningrad Affair heralded a new wave of Stalinist repression aimed at Leningrad elites who led the city through the wartime Blockade. Part of this dynamic took place in public “discussions” as a tool to discipline economists and professors to make sure their “science” did not challenge the authority of elite or ideology. The threat to power, it seemed, was local-level fields: a profession grounded in the search for Truth and intimately linked to Marxism-Leninism, an institution (the university), and “science” as practice and identity that was supposed to transcend social reality. High Stalinism was not only a matter of a suspicious elite rooting out competition; it had a complex dynamic that ran through combinations of institutions that, in this case, came together in the university.