The Soviet Communist Party Nomenklatura in the Ukrainian SSR in the 1970s through the First Half of the 1980s

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Julia Shelep 

I. Krypyakevych Institute of Ukrainian studies

April 13, 2016 /4.00 pm

Center for Urban History, Lviv

History has identified the seventies as an era of stagnation (zastoi) in the USSR. During this time ideological dogmas of Soviet authorities from the perspective of a worldview become rituals. The party leadership continued to try and replace the entire sphere of state government and administration with itself, and party functionaries made revolutionaries, "die-hard Leninists" and political activists into respectable officials. Work in party bodies was seen as a way to self-realization, maintaining the family and rising up the social ladder.

The main idea of this research lies in the attempt to correlate valuable references and models of behaviour of party functionaries with the problems which normal human life placed before them. The research consists of two blocks. First, an attempt to look at party nomenklatura from the inside out (to this end statistical indicators have been analyzed along with internal party documentation and testimony of party workers, and career practices have been investigated). Secondly, the researcher uncovers the unique designs of their images in the public mind. The final portrait of a party worker was created on the basis of very different sources: official materials and the Soviet press, memories of party functionaries and about them, as well as artistic works, memories of those who were in the opposition at that time, and visual sources.

The main question posed by the research: who and for what reasons did people embrace party positions? How did the soviet party nomenklatura class form as a separate social and professional group; what was the extent of its exclusiveness/isolation from the rest of society? How did people in high administrative positions feel about themselves? How did party workers unite the idea of a "communist paradise" with the daily work grind? What was the value system of a Soviet leader, of his understanding of civic duty, patriotism, the correlation of the statutory principles of the Communist Party of the USSR with the generally accepted norms of behaviour and morality?

Julia Shelep 

has a Master’s in History, is a junior researcher at the Department of Contemporary History at the I. Krypyakevych Institute of Ukrainian studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Her sphere of research interests includes: Communist Party workers of Soviet Ukraine 1970s – first half of the 1980s in the context of the social and political life in the USSR; oral history, visual history, and historical memory.