Competition in Socialist Society

The project's main objective is to study the concept of competition as it appeared in socialism. Our research team argues that a new situation occurred from the 1960s onward, in which the power-holders realised that in order to achieve economic progress they needed to learn from the “enemy”. This, in turn, led to the adoption of Western practices, including the urge for competitiveness. Some forms of this newly invented competition were simply imitations of their Western equivalents, while others modified Western models to the socialist framework. We study competition that enjoyed the approval of the people, even though, it was officially declared from above, thus suggesting that it served the interests of both the power elite and society. Through this analysis we intend to contribute to theoretical discussions on the Cold War era and on the working mechanism of state socialism.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland and by the University of Helsinki for 2010–2012 and is administered by the Aleksanteri Institute (Finnish Centre for Russian and East European Studies). Leader of the project is Dr. Katalin Miklóssy.

The project is a founding member of the Cold War Research Group –Consortium of the Aleksanteri Institute. The Consortium is established to develop new interpretations in order to broaden our understanding of the Cold War era by stressing interaction and the flow of ideas over the Iron Curtain instead of merely juxtaposing the Eastern and Western Blocs. Our project opens another new direction to the existing scholarship by combining the angles of small actors and interaction but adding the new aspect of the competitive features of state socialism.