Youth Is to Live in the City!: Rural Out-Migration in the Black Earth Region under Khrushchev and Brezhnev
This dissertation situates rural-urban migration in the Soviet Black Earth region of the southwestern RSFSR and northern Ukrainian SSR amid the socioeconomic and cultural policies and processes particular to the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. Whereas the state’s relationship with the village had earlier been primarily extractive and confiscatory, leaders now sought to integrate rural areas and their residents into the broader Soviet project, in large part by introducing a heavily distorted market and encouraging associated values of consumerism and individualization largely premised around urban lifestyles. Thus, even as rural standards of living improved substantially, village youth looked no less longingly to the city as a means to fulfil heightened aspirations and recalibrated notions of prestige around life and labor. In the very epicenter of migration, which shifted gradually southwestward from the Moscow and Urals regions toward the western Ukrainian and Belarusian SSR’s, it was typical for roughly two thirds of those finishing compulsory secondary schooling to leave for the city. They were aided in their departure by an expanded vocational training infrastructure created to prepare workers for industrial labor even as leaders contended with the loss of labor in agriculture and a demoralizing provisioning crisis. Because the gradient between city and village had indeed become more level, young migrants were largely prepared to lead their new city lives absent many of the frictions of earlier decades and centuries. But even these individuals, broadly compatible with Soviet urban modernity, faced a process of adjustment to urban lifeways within which egalitarian collectivism – notionally the foundational value of the Soviet project – had become still more noticeably eroded than in the village. In contending with a new pace of life, village out-migrants made tepid use of ideologically privileged scripts and sought foremost to maintain extremely close social and economic ties to their native villages. Thus, while authorities comforted themselves that this migratory processes conformed to certain “natural laws [zakonomernosti]” according to which rural and industrial labor would meld, the most significant process was in fact the growing irrelevance of formal ideological trappings amid the Soviet version of consumerist modernity.
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Ahmad, Mohammad Taimur Ali (2017-05-01)Rural-urban inequality in China has been increasing over the past few decades, with the prospects of higher wages in urban centers leading to mass rural-urban migration. I examine how rural inequality affects the household ...