The Soviet Social Contract and Why It Failed: Welfare Policy and Workers' Politics from Brezhnev to Yeltsin

In This Review

The Soviet Social Contract and Why It Failed: Welfare Policy and Workers' Politics from Brezhnev to Yeltsin

By Linda J. Cook
Harvard University Press, 1994
272 pp. $45.00
Purchase

This is an academic book, and a good one. Cook has taken a popular thesis in the community of those who studied the Soviet Union, one that explained the docility of the Soviet industrial working class as part of a social contract (the regime guaranteed a secure, albeit unspectacular, social and economic existence to workers, and they, in turn, left politics to the politicians), and subjected it to scrutiny. She not only looks at a great deal of the empirical evidence, she weighs the social contract thesis against a number of solid competing explanations, and finds in its favor. For specialists, this exercise alone is worthwhile, but, because she looks equally at the late Brezhnev years and most of the Gorbachev period, she generates insights into one of the large impediments to serious reform under Gorbachev: this social contract. She also has brief but interesting things to say about the uncertain labor-regime relationship that emerged at the end of the Soviet Union, when the leadership formally repudiated the deal.

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue