What is it about?

The article contributes to the field of historical sociology and applies sociological ideas about politics to critical letter writing during the Brezhnev era in the Soviet Union. Letter writing is well-known by scholars of the Soviet Union as an important avenue of participation for ordinary Soviet citizens. Letter writing was significant during the Soviet Union partly because more contentious forms of participation, such as contested elections, protests, and strikes, were forbidden.

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Why is it important?

I show in the article that Soviet citizens during the Brezhnev era packaged their criticisms in different ways that created a ‘repertoire’ of letter writing including anonymous, collective, and individual letters, as well as letters sent to newspapers and to the Communist Party. One of the main contributions of the article is presenting the responses from authorities to critical letters as well. The interactions between Soviet citizens and authorities through letter writing reveal an ‘architecture of deliberation’ that helped them solve problems.


I hope readers enjoy immersing themselves in this era of the Soviet Union as I did while working on the article. The late 1970s and early 1980s were not that long ago and many people who wrote the letters I analyzed are still living. And yet the social context was vastly different from today.

Andrew Buck
University of Southern Indiana

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Critical Letter Writing and Deliberation During the Brezhnev Era, Europe Asia Studies, November 2023, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2023.2277138.
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