PECOB Portal on Central Eastern
and Balkan Europe
Università di Bologna  
Tuesday June 25, 2024
Testata per la stampa

Vse idet po planu? – Unwrapping the (un)planned Soviet economy

Conference venue: German Historical Institute, Moscow
Period: May 27th-28th, 2019
Deadline for submitting abstracts: April 1st 2018

Description of the Conference

The economic history of the Soviet Union remains a mystery for many historians. As a subject of historical research, it has been either avoided or dominated by rather stereotypical ideas about the Soviet style of economy: that it was ineffective and wasteful, that it failed to create positive incentives for workers and that, eventually, it caused the collapse of the Soviet state. Perhaps the most important notion of the Soviet economy is, that it was planned. However, we have been knowing for decades that the plan was constantly adjusted and as such very flexible. Sticking to the label of the “planned economy” that contemporaries both within and outside of the Soviet Union used for different purposes, therefore means to reinforce debatable notions and terms.

In assessing the Soviet economy merely by economic criteria, we fail to see its “by-products” which, even though they did not translate into measurable economic output, helped Soviet citizens organize their lives and shaped individual and collective identities. Moreover, if we characterize the Soviet economy just by the existence of the plan, we will hardly be able to explain shifts and transformations in the relationship between ideas, policies and the everyday experience of production and consumption over the course of the Soviet period. In this workshop we want to focus on the post-Stalinist period to look for alternative categories and concepts that help us understand rather than mystify the realities of the Soviet economy.

Eligible topics for the conference

They invite participants to rethink Soviet history by looking at four dimensions of (non-)planning and how they unfolded at the micro-level:

The workshop seeks to understand Soviet economy better by looking at the “plan” not only as an economic policy, but also as an institution that shaped peoples’ lives, while at the same time being subject to constant renegotiation and adjustment. We aim at integrating economic history into the social and cultural history of the everyday. Drawing upon the rich scholarship of the late-Soviet period, production and consumption in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union will be approached as social and cultural practices. In a more broader sense, we would like to find out what was “economic”, “Soviet” and “socialist” about the Soviet planned economy in order to situate the Soviet economic style in a larger international context of state economic activity during the 20th century.

Guidelines for submission

This workshop is meant to create a platform for discussing work in progress in the exciting field of Soviet economic history. The papers will be pre-circulated among all participants and commented by two discussants each. The event is going to take place at the German Historical Institute, Moscow. Working languages will be Russian and English.

Abstracts (max. 300 words) and a short CV should be submitted by April 1st 2018 to one of the following addresses: and

PECOB: Portal on Central Eastern and Balkan Europe - University of Bologna - 1, S. Giovanni Bosco - Faenza - Italy

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