Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

The Soviet Bloc in Global Economy

Chair: Riikka Palonkorpi (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Discussant: Suvi Kansikas (Network for European Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Sari Autio-Sarasmo (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland): The Soviet Economic Modernisation: East-West Interaction and Transfer of Technology
Aaro Sahari
(University of Helsinki, Finland): Building the Northern Clyde. Reassessing Finland, Russia, and the Baltic Maritime Technology Cluster in the 20th Century
Mila Oiva (Aalto University, FInland): Advertising Polish Clothing in the Soviet Union, 1949-1961

This panel discusses the history of the socialist bloc by rethinking two views that persist in the study of the socialist economy: first, that the socialist system strived for autarky and isolation from the rest of the world, and second, that socialist bloc trade was either dominated by the USSR or that it was based on non-conflictual cooperation. As the papers in this panel highlight, the Soviet Union and its allies deliberately strived for interaction beyond their own countries and the bloc in trade, knowledge transfer and scientific and cultural cooperation. Further, in many cases the socialist leaders accepted, even supported activities crossing the Iron Curtain, which resulted in a multi-level integration of their bloc with the rest of the world. In short, through trade, the socialist bloc became part of the globalizing consumer goods market and consequently, consumer culture. The spread of market liberalization, consumerism and individualism paved way for reforming, and later transforming the socialist economy.