chapter
4 Pages

Module 3 The Problem

WithVictor Petrov, Riley Quinn

In Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s, Sheila Fitzpatrick's core question asks how Soviet citizens—Homo Sovieticus, in her words—dealt with the practices and institutions that made up Stalinism. Fitzpatrick's work relates to a number of other revisionist scholars working on Soviet social history, including Sarah Davies of the United Kingdom, Russian American Elena Osokina, and the American academics Stephen Kotkin and Jochen Hellbeck. Kotkin's work is of particular importance to Fitzpatrick, especially his book Magnetic Mountain. The book focuses on the relationship between the state and workers in a single industrial city, Magnitogorsk, which became central to Stalin's drive toward industrialization. Kotkin's core idea was that citizens learned to conform outwardly to official expectations in order to get ahead. Fitzpatrick describes how the regime gained compliance from its population partly through a patronage system, in which valuable goods were provided to certain citizens in return for loyalty or favors.