chapter  1
11 Pages

Theoretical Concepts

WithVladimir Shlapentokh

This chapter approaches the postmortem analysis of Soviet society from seven central premises. The terms normal and abnormal when applied in the study of society have two distinct aspects: normative or hierarchical and functionalist. Like those in any Western economy, trends in the Soviet economy were cyclical rather than uniformly in decline. The standard of living endured peaks and valleys, which are typical for any regime, regardless of its political foundation. The "normal-abnormal" criterion can be successfully applied when designing a typology of politicians' and scholars' views of Soviet society throughout its history. The hierarchical approach and the normal/abnormal criterion were entrenched not only in the bedrock of Soviet studies but in the general perspective of politicians and experts in both the Soviet Union and the United States. Support for the regime was stronger in the core than in the provinces.