The World of the Soviet Citizen
Some socio-economic, physical, bureaucratic, and even psychological dimensions of everyday life as experienced by Soviet citizens. In this section, housing issues are seen from an administrative point of view.
Communal apartments and this website
A brief description of this Web site.
Housing in the USSR
Housing policy and how it affected people seeking more or improved space.
Social benefit spending in the USSR
What kinds of benefits were available to the public and how they were distributed.
Property and ownership
Soviet Russians did not view themselves as renters; rules were very different from market economies.
Housing provided to workers in connection with their place of employment.
Outer city housing complexes (Novostroiki)
This essay explains the growth history of St. Petersburg; comparing the older, central neighborhoods with the new construction (novostroika) of the outer areas.
The paternalistic state
Some psychological, social, and economic consequences of a paternalist state.
The waiting list for housing
The waiting list for better housing, 1960 through the 1980s.
The Soviet residency permit as a means of controlling citizens' lives.
Consumer goods and the family budget
How Soviets spent their money, from the end of the 1950s through the 1980s.
How under-the-radar economic networks work.
Blat (connections) in contemporary Russia
How blat has changed in the post-Soviet context.
The public baths
How the public baths worked in the Soviet period and how they were used.
Dachas outside the city, their history and functions.
The Siege of Leningrad
A brief account of the Siege of Leningrad.
Daily life on the inside, as seen through some key objects and concepts; peculiarities of social relations within the communal apartment.
How space is organized and objects function in a communal kitchen.
Eating and drinking
Food staples and consumption habits of communal apartment dwellers.
About the struggle against bourgeois values in the 1920s and naked bulbs in contemporary entryways.
Over several decades, government programs were broadcast to all residents at practically no charge.
Everyday life and housing
The study of housing is a key part of the larger body of scholarship on everyday life.
"Normal" relations between co-tenants assumes mutual support.
Not quite like family
Co-tenants are inevitable witnesses to other people's private behavior.
Expressing "privacy" in Russian
About the concept of privacy in Russian culture, and the word "privacy" in Russian.
Acceptable violations of privacy
When a right to privacy is violated for the sake of fairness.
Knowledge of other people's intimate lives in a communal apartment.
How Soviet Russians understood money
The diminished role played by monetary considerations in Soviet society had many repercussions.
"Justice" and the sharing of resources
How the principle of "justice" applies in the division of resources within a communal apartment.
The electric bill as an instrument of justice
People pay close attention to money spent on lighting public spaces.
An essay about formal leadership in a communal apartment.
What happens when a resident is on duty for apartment cleaning.
Clean and dirty
Practices and notions of cleanliness vary across cultures and communities. How do we understand the mess and dirt we see in many images of communal apartments?
Repairs and maintenance
Who is responsible for maintaining the common spaces in a communal apartment?
Protected by the government
About the State Inspectorate for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
Poverty and the quality of life
A discussion of some of the economic and social factors that explain why people stay in and tolerate communal apartments.
Coping with Communal Life
Stories that residents tell, along with behaviors conditioned by or exacerbated by communal conditions.
Ethnography and life history
A few words on ethnographic methods and analysis of the stories people tell about their lives and their world.
Narratives and stories
Listening to the stories people tell.
About envy and its consequences.
Some tenants spy on others.
A little girl takes justice into her own hands
A little girl takes vengeance on a neighbor for stealing food.
How to get the toilet repaired
A letter to a newspaper and to the housing office gets the job done.
Drunks and drinking
A short essay about attitudes towards alcoholics and drunks.
Firewood in the courtyard
How firewood for heating was stored in building courtyards.
References and Index
Bibliographical references and a subject index for the essays.
Complete bibliography for the site.
Index to essays
This alphabetical index covers all essays. For a similar index to the entire site, please click the