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Mishuris, Katerina

Making the Bourgeois Pseudo-Science Soviet: Opinion Surveys in the late 1950s and the 1960s

Following their virtual disappearance during the Stalinist period, opinion polls arrived on the Soviet scene in the late 1950s as a predominantly Western transplant, a late-coming innovation in the domain of Soviet social investigation. Taking this transformation as a point of departure, the paper will examine the processes and institutions through which Western – most notably American – polling technologies were transformed and adapted to the new Soviet environment. In contrast to many studies of the Soviet sociological sciences, which are mostly confined to aspects of internal development, my paper will stem from the assumption that the instauration of empirical social investigation in the Soviet Union cannot be fully understood from within the national boundaries alone. Starting from the late 1950s, the social scientific vocabulary and polling technologies pioneered by the American Gallup Institute in the early decades of the twentieth century were gradually adopted by Soviet opinion researchers, whereby shaping their own attempts to assess the public sentiment on Soviet soil. The paper will examine a series of opinion surveys conducted by Soviet opinion researchers during the 1960s and explore the emergence of the opinion survey as a novel technique for the production and communication of knowledge about the self and society under Soviet socialism in the context of the Cold War.

Saturday 31 Oct, 12.00-13.30 SESSION 8
Panel: The Impact of the Cold War on Soviet Scholarship