Sukhova Olga Aleksandrovna, Doctor of historical sciences, professor, dean of the faculty of History and Languages, Penza State University (40 Krasnaya street, Penza, Russia), email@example.com
Background. The study of prerequisites of the systemic crisis that consumed the Russian civilization at the end of the twentieth century sets the prospects for a comprehensive analysis of factors, both objective and subjective. In the conditions of anthropologization of history, the study of the history of Soviet everyday life, and, first and foremost, of social expectations and attitudes of mass consciousness, becomes paramount. The criteria for measuring the society’s well-being can be the transformation of iconic images of everyday reality of the Soviet people. In this context, the purpose of the study is to analize car purchasing as a measure of social prestige. The disagreement between what was available and what was needed in the conditions of the consumer revolution in the USSR became one of the reasons for the Soviet identity crisis.
Materials and methods. The research problems are solved through examining of regional and central archives’ documentation, analyzing modern scientific literature. The methodology of the study is presented by the history aspects of everyday life and by the study of the socio-psychological and semiotic aspects of the Soviet history.
Results. The article analyzes the process of structure changing in the consumption of Soviet citizens. During the second half of the twentieth century, consumer strategies demonstrated a general trend of shifting priorities from providing food to purchasing manufactured goods, and then to household appliances and cars.
Conclusions. Relative welfare growth in the 1960s–1980s stimulated the growth of material and spiritual needs of Soviet citizens, which, in turn, came into conflict with the specifics of the Soviet distribution system. “Car” as the most important concept of the value system, a measure of social prestige in the format of Soviet everyday life, acted as a barometer of social well-being. Insufficient demand for car purchasing marked the formation of public consciousness close to consumer panic, and, at the same time, was an undeniable proof of the authorities’ inability to solve acute problems of the present, thereby destabilizing the situation in the country. The blocking of hopes and aspirations was perceived more sharply and painfully in the areas that held special positions in the Soviet distribution system.
USSR history, Soviet everyday life, behavioral strategies, consumption system, shortage, car as a criterion of social prestige, crisis of social well-being
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