Vse idet po planu? - Unwrapping the (un)planned Soviet economy

Vse idet po planu? - Unwrapping the (un)planned Soviet economy

Katja Bruisch (Trinity College Dublin) Alexandra Oberländer (MPIB Berlin) Deutsches Historisches Institut Moskau Russian Academy of Science (Institute of World History)
Russian Federation
Vom - Bis
27.05.2019 - 28.05.2019
Alex Oberländer

The economic history of the Soviet Union remains a mystery for many historians. As a subject of historical research, it has been either avoided or dominated by rather stereotypical ideas about the Soviet style of economy: that is was ineffective and wasteful, that it failed to create positive incentives for workers and that, eventually, it caused the collapse of the Soviet state. Perhaps the most important notion of the Soviet economy is, that it was planned. However, we have been knowing for decades that the plan was constantly adjusted and as such very flexible. Sticking to the label of the “planned economy” that contemporaries both within and outside of the Soviet Union used for different purposes, therefore means to reinforce debatable notions and terms. In assessing the Soviet economy merely by economic criteria, we fail to see its “by-products” which, even though they did not translate into measurable economic output, helped Soviet citizens organize their lives and shaped individual and collective identities. Moreover, if we characterize the Soviet economy just by the existence of the plan, we will hardly be able to explain shifts and transformations in the relationship between ideas, policies and the everyday experience of production and consumption over the course of the Soviet period. In this workshop we want to focus on the post-Stalinist period to look for alternative categories and concepts that help us understand rather than mystify the realities of the Soviet economy.


Monday, 27th of May

10:00-10:45 Welcome and introduction (Katja Bruisch, Alexandra Oberländer)

11:00-13:00 The enterprise as a social micro cosmos
Chair: Katja Bruisch (Trinity College Dublin)

Olga Nikonova (South Ural State U, Chelyabinsk): Как директор завода Орден Ленина получал, или социальные функции предприятий в системе советского планирования (How the Director of the Lenin Factory Got Hit, or: The Social Functions of the Enterprise in the System of Soviet planning)

Vasily Borovoy (Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg): Границы плановой экономики: трест «Арктикуголь» на норвежском архипелаге Шпицберген» (The Edges of the Planned Economy: The Trust “Arktikugol’” on the Norwegian Archipelago Spitsbergen)

Sheila Pattle (Durham U): Planning the ‘Human Factor’: Industrial Sociology and Enterprises’ Social Development Plans under Brezhnev

Discussants: Sergei Alymov (Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Moscow), Sergei Zhuravlev (Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Russian History)

14:30-16:30 Enacting the (un-)planned economy
Chair: Alexandra Oberländer (MPI Berlin)

Marianna Zhevakina (U of Hamburg): Цеховики: организация "левого" производства на социалистических предприятиях (Tsekhoviki: The Organization of Illegal Production in Socialist Enterprises)

Anna Ivanova (Harvard U): Price Increases in the Brezhnev Soviet Union: Between Economic Rationality and Ideological Compromise

Andrey Smetanin (U of Perm): Микроэкономические данные и дискуссия о цикличности советской экономики (Microeconomic Data and Debates About the Cyclic Character of the Soviet Economy)

Discussants: Susanne Schattenberg (FSO Bremen), Katja Bruisch (Trinity College Dublin)

17:00 Keynote Address
Kirsten Bönker (U of Bielefeld): Vse idet po planu? Rethinking Late Soviet Economic History
Chair: Mikhail Lipkin (Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World History)

Tuesday, 28th of May

9:00-11:00 Soviet planning and the outer world
Chair: Susanne Schattenberg (FSO Bremen)

Felix Herrmann (FSO Bremen): Money and friendship don‘t mix: Price formation in the CMEA trade with Computer Technology

Max Trecker (IfZ Munich): How Soviet Designs Beat the West: The Success of Soviet Steel in India

Sophie Lambroschini (Centre March Bloch Berlin): How to Plan the Unplannable? Soviet ‘Capitalist’ Revenue on International Financial Markets

Discussants: Oscar Sanchez-Sibony (U of Hongkong), Nikita Pivovarov (RGANI Moscow, Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World History)

11:30-13:30 Planning elites and institutions
Chair: Sandra Dahlke (GHI Moscow)

Nikolay Mitrokhin (FSO Bremen): Производственники против плановиков: противостояние в экономическом отделе аппарата ЦК КПСС (Productivists vs. Planners: Confrontation within the Economic Department of the Central Committee)

Erik Radisch (U of Passau): The “Scientification of the Plan” as a Measure to Cope with Post-Stalinist Realities

Viacheslav Nekrasov (Surgut U): Госэкономсовет СССР: экономисты, компьютеры и цены (GosEkonomSovet: Economists, Computers and Prices)

Discussants: Matthias Uhl (GHI Moscow), Alexandra Oberländer (MPIB Berlin)

14:30-16:30 Technology between fetish and challenge
Chair: Matthias Uhl (GHI Moscow)

Pavel Pokid’ko (EU St. Petersburg) & Elena Kochetkova (National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg): Промышленные инновации в плановой экономике на примере развития лесной промышленности СССР в 1945-1991 гг. (Industrial Innovation in the Planned Economy – The Case of the Soviet Timber Industry, 1945-1991)

Aleksey Popov (U of Simferopol): Атомный Долгострой: строительство Крымской АЭС в 1969–1989 гг. как диагноз позднесоветской плановой экономике (Never-Ending Nuclear Construction: The Building of the Crimean Nuclear Powerplant as a Diagnosis of the Late-Soviet Planned Economy (1969-1989))

Isabelle Gouarné (CNRS Amiens) & Olessia Kirtchik (HSE Moscow): Computers for the (Un)Planned Economy: From Planning to Engineering Economic Governance (Franco-Soviet dynamics)

Discussants: Mikhail Lipkin (Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World History), Galina Orlova (Higher School of Economics, Moscow)

17:00 Conclusion (Katja Bruisch, Alexandra Oberländer)



MPIB Berlin
Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin


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