Project Summary

Among the first histories of Perestroika, this research explores late-Soviet reform not as a transition to liberal capitalism but as an attempt to reinvigorate socialism. Reformers initiated far-reaching reform in response to what they perceived as a moral crisis, and like leaders before them, they encouraged people to become citizens who embodied the values espoused by revolutionaries-namely active engagement in the workplace and society. I have opened new archives of letters to public figures that allow me to trace popular response to reform. These sources demonstrate that Soviet people used the public letter to work on themselves and show that they were activated citizens. Countering the common assertion that the Soviet public sphere was characterized only by cynicism and opposition, this study demonstrates that Soviet people engaged ideology and the state creatively.