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Durham University

Research & business

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Miss Sheila Pattle

Contact Miss Sheila Pattle (email at sheila.h.pattle@durham.ac.uk)

Project Title and Description

Rethinking ‘developed socialism’: Industrial sociology and enterprise social planning under Brezhnev

The period which Leonid Brezhnev dubbed the era of ‘developed socialism’ was one of steady economic decline, in which the unproductivity and the indiscipline of the workforce were identified as a systemic problem. One way in which the Soviet state attempted to tackle it was through to research-driven social planning in industrial enterprises. This strategy coincided with the resurrection of sociology, three decades since the discipline had virtually disappeared. Of particular importance became the applied subfield of industrial sociology, which was expected to play a major role in enhancing the country’s productivity by impacting on its working collectives in a variety of ways. Its remit included the functions that large enterprises played in the wider social sphere – namely, their responsibilities beyond the factory gates in providing local facilities and services, including housing, welfare and leisure, either directly or via the trade unions. 

The project takes this understudied area as a particularly useful case for exploring the intersections and interactions of academic discourses and practices, state ideology and policy, modes of industrial and economic development, and the social realities of everyday working life in the late Soviet Union. The hypothesis is that the ambitions and disappointments of the late-Soviet project of industrial sociology, its theories and its applications, the ways in which the discipline was directed, developed, deployed and received at different levels, can provide new insights into how the Soviet state sought and failed to regenerate ‘socialism’ prior to the more radical and turbulent approaches of Gorbachev’s perestroika.

Qualifications

  • BSc Geography, Durham
  • BA Russian Studies, SSEES UCL
  • MA by Research, Durham

Research Interests

The late Soviet Union (1960s-1980s) is my main research interest and I have approached it from the perspectives of work and leisure. 

Work: My current research examines the late Soviet Union through the lens of the profession of sociology and, specifically, the deployment of the applied sub-discipline of industrial sociology in the Soviet economy and its consequential impact on urban planning. 

Leisure: My MA research focussed on Soviet domestic tourism and the example of the development of the Golden Ring (Zolotoe kol'tso) as a new destination for mass cultural tourism. This encompassed the conflicts and accommodations between heritage preservation and the facilities demanded by modern tourists in small Russian cities and the representation of those cities through tourism.

Research Outputs

Conference presentations:

  • ‘Rethinking ‘developed socialism’: Industrial sociology and enterprise social planning under Brezhnev’, poster presentation at the BASEES Annual Conference, Cambridge, 12-14 April 2019.
  •  ‘Planning the “Human Factor”: Industrial Sociology and Enterprises’ Social Development Plans under Brezhnev’, at the workshop, Vse idet po planu? – Unwrapping the (un)planned Soviet economy, at the German Historical Institute in Moscow, 27-28 May 2019.

Journal Article:

  • ‘Forging the Golden Ring: Tourist Development and Heritage Preservation in the Late Soviet Union’, The Slavonic and East European Review, 96:2 (April 2018), 283-309.

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