The post-socialist city: insights from the spaces of radical societal change
Since the 1950s, Moscow’s housing development has been underlined by modernist planning schemes. From the 20th to 21st centuries, the quality and appearance of apartment buildings changed, but housing estates designed as coherent neighbourhoods not only remain the principal type of housing organization but are still being constructed in Moscow and its suburbs. Though the concept itself has not been challenged by policy-makers and planners, by the end of the 20th century it became apparent that early housing estates have become a problem due to poor quality of construction. In 2017, the Moscow Government announced a highly controversial program suggesting the demolition of housing estates built between the 1950s and 1960s. Our contribution analyzes the history of housing estates development in Moscow aiming to understand what has led to the adoption of the 2017 “renovation” program. If this program ends up being fully implemented, along with planned renovation of former industrial areas, the cityscape of Russia’s capital will be completely redefined.
The apparent realities of the communist dystopia lead to specific expectations from the transition to capitalism: the replacement of communism should cause not only a boon in human happiness, but also a resurgence of social life. Two types of observations in the past 20 years challenge these expectations. First, people from former-communist countries are often nostalgic and pessimistic when discussing changes in social relationships, friendships, family, and social engagement. Many lament the perceived decay of relationships due to a claimed growth in egoism, materialism, working hours, and moving abroad. Such stories suggest that people may have come to devalue the interpersonal social sphere during the transition years. In addition to these changes in values, there is evidence for enhanced normlessness. An example is the steep increase in murder, suicide, alcoholism, and juvenile delinquency in many post-socialist societies. However, these two observations, changing values and social disorder, have not been fully integrated, whether theoretically or empirically. As a first step toward alleviating this, the present article connects both of these changes to the reintroduction of a capitalist economic structure. Post-communist social disorder, such as deviance, can be explained if the free-market transformation weakened social values and thereby undermined the informal social control which depends on these values. This article will, in two steps, empirically investigate this proposition. First, it will ask whether the transformation to capitalist culture has resulted in individualized values that challenge informal social control. Second, this new latency of sociality will be linked to normlessness.
Modern capitalism favors values that undermine our face-to-face bonds with friends and family members. Focusing on the post-communist world, and comparing it to more 'developed' societies, this book reveals the mixed effects of capitalist culture on interpersonal relationships. While most observers blame the egoism and asocial behavior found in new free-market societies on their communist pasts, this work shows how relationships are also threatened by the profit orientations and personal ambition unleashed by economic development. Successful people in societies as diverse as China, Russia, and Eastern Germany adjust to the market economy at a social cost, relaxing their morals in order to obtain success and succumbing to increased material temptations to exploit relationships for their own financial and professional gain. The capitalist personality is internally troubled as a result of this "sellout," but these qualms subside as it devalues intimate qualitative bonds with others. This book also shows that post-communists are similarly individualized as people living in Western societies. Capitalism may indeed favor values of independence, creativity, and self-expressiveness, but it also rewards self-centeredness, consumerism, and the stripping down of morality. As is the case in the West, capitalist culture fosters an internally conflicted and self-centered personality in post-communist societies.
This volume offers a profound analysis of post-socialist economic and political transformation in the Balkans, involving deeply unequal societies and oligarchical “democracies.” The contributions deconstruct the persistent imaginary of the Balkans, pervasive among outsiders to the region, who see it as no more than a repository of ethnic conflict, corruption and violence. Providing a much needed critical examination of the Yugoslav socialist experience, the volume sheds light on the recent rebirth of radical politics in the Balkans, where new groups and movements struggle for a radically democratic vision of society.
The volume presents a new and unique view of welfare in Russia and Eastern European countries from an intersectional perspective of welfare, gender and agency. Since the collapse of socialism, the welfare structures of the post-socialist states have experienced large and rapid changes. The discussions on the reforming welfare models serve as the integrating theme for the volume. The authors discuss past and current developments and make comparisons in time and space between the early 1990s and late 2000s and between post-socialist and transitional countries. Welfare and political democratization are analyzed on the one hand as structures and processes and on the other hand as cultural meanings and through agency, which all are strongly gendered. Macro-level analyses and in-depth case studies by scholars from different countries and disciplines provide a wide and multilayered picture of welfare developments and gendered practices of social services, caregiving and civic activism, among others. Special attention is given to research methodologies, particularly on fieldwork and micro-level understanding of the related topics. The contributors come from social and political sciences and from both former socialist and 'Western' countries from Russia and Slovenia as well as the US, the UK, Germany and Finland.
The article discusses the post-socialist developments of urban public space in St. Petersburg, Russia. The city with a historic center protected by the UNESCO World Heritage status in combination with the Soviet legacy of lack of public participation is facing the problem of public space development. There are two controversial concepts of urban space represented in the public discourse that are analyzed in the article: the concept of a ‘museum city’ and the ‘city for people’. The historic context of transformation (the Soviet period of the strict divide of public and private, and the post- socialist era of individualization and the decay of the public) is used to explain the current debate and difficulties of building an inclusive and tolerant model of public space in St. Petersburg.