The Daily Lives of Urban Women during the Khrushchev Thaw in Soviet and Post-Soviet Scholarship

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Abstract


The article discusses the rise and changes of scholarly interest in urban women's everyday life in the USSR of the mid-twentieth century. By studying the Soviet and post-Soviet historiography of women's everyday life during Khrushchev’s Thaw, the authors explain that at first this subject was treated in analogy to the customary celebration of Soviet achievements: also, the “women’s question” would eventually be “resolved”. With rising doubts about the “resolvability” of the complex problems related to gender relations came a paradigm shift towards reflections on the difficulties and contradictions in the lifestyle of urban women. At the center of debate were now the necessity for shortening the working day and for additional vacation days, as well as the “double bondage” of women who had to combine a professional workload with heavy family obligations. The authors argue that in the 1990s (a period now often called “the new thaw,” and “the nineties of the gender debates”), the political aspects of female life in the 1950s and 1960s became marginal in scholarship. The main attention was now focused on the home and family spheres, on problems of corporeality and fashion, and on the “woman's voice” in literature, cinema and media. In consequence, some aspects of women's everyday life during the Thaw years remained unexplored. Finally, there are no generalizing works that would compare women's everyday life on the levels of the USSR, Russia, or Russia’s regions, and little work has been done on ethnocultural characteristics of women's life in the post-war USSR.


About the authors

Natalia L. Pushkareva

Women & Gender Studies Department, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS

Author for correspondence.
Email: pushkarev@mail.ru
32a, 1 Leninsky Av., Moscow, 19017, Russia

Doktor Istoricheskikh Nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Professor, Head of the Center for Gender Studies

Tamara V. Bitokova

Women & Gender Studies Department, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology RAS

Email: Tamara.bitok@gmail.com
32a, 1 Leninsky Av., Moscow, 19017, Russia

graduate student

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