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Governing Soviet Journalism

The Press and the Socialist Person after Stalin

Thomas C. Wolfe

Publication Year: 2005

The Soviet project of creating a new culture and society entailed a plan for the modeling of "new" persons who embodied and fulfilled the promise of socialism, and this vision was expressed in the institutions of government. Using archival sources, essays, and interviews with journalists, Thomas C. Wolfe provides an account of the final four decades of Soviet history viewed through the lens of journalism and media. Whereas most studies of the Soviet press approach its history in terms of propaganda or ideology, Wolfe's focus is on the effort to imagine a different kind of person and polity. Foucault's concept of governmentality illuminates the relationship between the idea of the socialist person and everyday journalistic representation, from the Khrushchev period to the 1990s and the appearance of the tabloid press. This thought-provoking study provides insights into the institutions of the Soviet press and the lives of journalists who experienced important transformations of their work.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

This text was made possible by many people who at different times saw the value in trying to make sense of the transformation of Soviet media. Some assistance was immediate and direct, other kinds of help were less obviously tied to the work of research and writing, but without all of it, this book would never have been completed. ...

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pp. xi

The archival references in chapter 3 are to what was called in the early post-Soviet era the TsKhSD, or Tsentral’noe Khranenie dlia sovremennii dokumentatsii. This is the former Central Party Archives on the Old Square. It has undergone several name changes since the early 1990s, ...

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pp. xiii-xxi

This book emerged from dozens of conversations with journalists grappling with the implications of the Soviet collapse for their lives and work. Some of these conversations felt like uneasy performances, as when the vice general director of ITAR-TASS—the Soviet Union’s, and after 1991, the Russian Federation’s main news agency ...

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pp. 1-32

The Soviet project of creating a “new” culture and society entailed a plan for the modeling of “new” persons who both embodied and fulfilled the promise of socialism. Most studies of the “utopian” dimensions of Soviet culture focus on the period of experimentation and innovation in the 1920s or consider the 1930s, ...

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1. Journalism and the Person in the Soviet Sixties

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pp. 33-70

The collapse of state socialism in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s brought a number of crises in its wake, the most glaring of which was perhaps the disappearance of the welfare state: for millions of Soviet citizens, daily life acquired a new dimension of struggle and demanded new strategies of coping, if not survival. ...

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2. Agranovskii’s Essays

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pp. 71-103

A number of contradictions lay at the heart of Khrushchev’s and Adzhubei’s promotion of journalists’ governmental identities. One was that it tied journalists’ sense of purpose so closely to positive proof of the unfolding of socialism’s progress around the world. ...

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3. Journalism against Socialism, Socialism against Journalism

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pp. 104-142

As with every leadership change in the Soviet Union, the replacement of Khrushchev by a group of his former colleagues in October 1964 involved more than a simple retirement, more than an accession of a slightly younger and more vigorous cohort of leaders. It represented, rather, another redefinition of the role of the Communist Party in Soviet society. ...

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4. Perestroika and the End of Government by Journalism

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pp. 143-175

The Gorbachev era saw all the contradictions of Soviet history compressed into six chaotic years, and depending on one’s theoretical point of view, the policy decisions of Gorbachev and his allies can be read for the way they embodied a logic that had to lead to the regime’s collapse. ...

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5. Teaching Tabloids

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pp. 176-201

The end of the Communist Party’s political monopoly in February 1990 and the passage of the Press Law in June 1990, which introduced freedom of the press to Soviet society, effectively brought an end to the radial diagram of government that had been established at the beginning of the Soviet regime. ...

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pp. 202-216

My discussion of the appearance of tabloid newspapers in the Russian Federation has brought me to the end of the arc of transformation of the Soviet press, an arc whose beginning was a conversation with Vladimir Shliapov, the Izvestiia journalist whose outline of his career supplied the outline for this work. ...


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pp. 217-226


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pp. 227-234


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pp. 235-240

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780253002532
E-ISBN-10: 0253002532
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253345899

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 15 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005