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Soviet engineering and technical intellectuals from the 1960’s to the 1980’s: Searching for the boundaries of collective consciousness

Roman N. Abramov, Doctor of Sociology, Associate professor, leading researcher, ,
mailto: roman_na@mail.ru
Soviet engineering and technical intellectuals from the 1960’s to the 1980’s: Searching for the boundaries of collective consciousness.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2017. Vol. 8. No. 1. P. 114-130

This Article is downloaded: 311 times
Topic: Actors of modernization

For citation:
Abramov R. N.. Soviet engineering and technical intellectuals from the 1960’s to the 1980’s: Searching for the boundaries of collective consciousness. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2017. Vol. 8. No. 1. P. 114-130
DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/vis.2017.20.1.441


This article focuses on issues such as the emergence and existence of a collective consciousness among the Soviet engineering/technical intellectuals during the period of real socialism, based on knowledge of the past embodied in the memories of those who represent this group. The analysis utilizes E. Durkheim’s ideas about collective consciousness. This man of science developed the concept of collective or common consciousness, tying it to the idea of “organic solidarity”, which can be interpreted as the ethos of a certain social group, as well as knowledge about social reality and about the place which a certain group occupies within it, with said knowledge producing collective identity. This article attempts to reconstruct certain elements of the consciousness of the Soviet engineering/technical intellectuals group based on analyzing the remaining memories of its representatives, as well as the ETW (engineering technical workers) discourse concept proposed by M. Lipovitsky, which characterizes forms of group consciousness among the said group. The whole point of the ETW discourse, according to M. Lipovitsky, is spontaneous positivism and progressism, confidence in the power of facts, as well as denying complicated polyphonic prisms when it comes to cultivating a mock form of irony given a lack of critical self-reflection. This work examines the issues of the social and professional status of the group of Soviet engineering/technical intellectuals, as well as its position in the social structure of Soviet society. In order to accomplish this, studies by Soviet sociologists, dedicated to engineering personnel, are utilized. It is stated that the professionalism of engineering/technical intellectuals was based on the level of education that they received, as well as the state’s need for a technocratic class, which would make the USSR competitive in defense and civil spheres. The professional independence of various sub-groups of the engineering/technical intellectuals was not equal, and it depended on the industrial affiliation of the organization where certain specialists were at work. Also discussed are certain professional culture characteristics of this group, including technocratic thinking, rationalism, and a critical outlook on the late Soviet period. It is shown that the memories of Soviet engineers can somewhat reveal the life and professional world of this group, they do not, however, indicate the existence of several different professional environments and forms of collective consciousness within it, which are still waiting for their researchers. Search and discussion is the purpose of this text.


engineering and technical intelligentsia, professions, scientific and technical progress, ITR-discourse, collective conscious.


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