422.5 The last Soviet generation: Biographies of the lost

Friday, August 3, 2012: 10:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Mikhail ANIPKIN , Sociology, Volgograd State University, Volgograd, Russia
The break-up of the Soviet Union in late 1991-early 1992 affected the lives of the whole generation born in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This generation consists of the young people who left secondary school and entered the universities under the USSR, but on completion of their degrees found themselves in an completely different country. This generation is identified in my work as ‘the Last Soviet Generation.' It may be described as a transit generation, the biographical study of which is important for a better understanding of social-identity change after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

These social upheavals, which are still unfinished, are best investigated through the medium of individual biographies. The only serious research on the subject so far has been done by Alexei Yurchak (2006) in his book, Everything was forever, until it was no more: the last Soviet generation. Although an excellent anthropological study of the late Soviet time, this book focuses on the older generation, whose careers successfully started in the late USSR and then naturally transferred to the ‘Post-Soviet’ stage. In my research , by contrast, I am focusing on the younger generation.

I argue that this last Soviet generation, aged now between, say, 37 and 43 years old,  is distinguished by the following characteristics. First, from the demographical viewpoint, it may be regarded as a ‘lost generation’ in the sense that its proportion is the lowest among the other sectors of the population in active employment. Second, it has an ambiguous social identity, having lost a previous Soviet identity without gaining a new identity in the present Russia. Third, this generation is not active in the political life of contemporary Russia.

A series of biographical interviews should help construct an anthropological picture of the last Soviet generation, and hopefully clarify several of the issues raised in a project of this nature.