This is the first study in English of a major and instructive episode in the history of the Soviet Union. The Stakhanovite movement commemorated the mining of 102 tons of coal by Aleksei Stakhanov on August 30-1, 1935, and it was an important symbol by which the state urged workers to achieve greater productivity. As Lewis Siegelbaum demonstrates, Stakhanovism can be used to explore the social relations within Soviet industry at a critical stage in its development. In this sense, Stakhanovism was an important symbol of a shift in official priorities from construction of the means of production via increasing inputs of labor, to intensive use of capital and labor. Siegelbaum argues that Stakhanovism evolved neither as the product of a master plan nor of spontaneity from below. It developed in response to economic and political contingencies, local initiatives and inertia, and the maneuvering of workers and their bosses alike. Stakhanovism was the characteristic mode of what he calls 'the politics of productivity'. Stakhanovites did not constitute an aristocracy of labor, but rather were a diverse and often changing group.
For all but a relative few, Stakhanovite status was provisional, depending as much on managerial favoritism and technical assistance as on individual skill and ambition. Eventually, however, Stakhanovites assumed a number of roles, including that of informers against managers, party officials, and engineers. Many were rewarded for their services by promotion to managerial and technical positions. As 'cultured' individuals who supposedly led fulfilled and contented lives during non-working hours, Stakhanovites served an integrative function that was perhaps more important than their contributions to production. Through an interpretation of Stakhanovites as models of the New Soviet Man, this book advances a unique contribution to our understanding of Soviet life in the 1930s.
"...by far the best entry into the Soviet industrial scene, from above and from below, presented with remarkable competence and good judgement...[Siegelbaum] helps us understand the organization of labour and problems of stimulation; we learn about norm setting and shop-floor foremen; we get a good historical overview of forms of labour organization and 'socialist competition' through the decade that interests him and we should commend him, in particular, for his knowledge of the labour process in the coal mines where Stakhanovism was invented." Moshe Lewin, Labour/Le Travail "A short review cannot do justice to the subtlety of insight in evidence throughout this book. In this work, Siegelbaum is generous in his praise of scholars who have influenced him. One can only conclude that Stakhanovism and the Politics of Productivity will itself undoubtedly become a model for future practitioners of Soviet labor history. William B. Husband, The Russian Review "In this fine study, Professor Siegelbaum tells the story of Stalin's ultimately successful attempt to raise productivity sufficiently to enable the country to defend itself. Warmly recommended." Virginia Quarterly Review "...we now need a steady stream of monographs precisely like this one, which eventually will allow us to construct the rich, multi-dimensional evidentiary base necessary to sustain answers to broader interpretative questions. By this standard, Siegelbaum's book merits strong praise and a wide audience." Peter Hauslohner, Labor History
Series: Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Its Applications
Number Of Pages: 344
Published: 25th March 1988
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 14.48
Weight (kg): 0.54