Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow

Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow

Olga Shevchenko
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/24/2008
ISBN: 978-0-253-00257-0
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Winner, 2009 Heldt Prize, Assn. for Women in Slavic Studies
Winner, Davis Center Book Prize
In this ethnography of postsocialist Moscow in the late 1990s, Olga Shevchenko draws on interviews with a cross-section of Muscovites to describe how people made sense of the acute uncertainties of everyday life, and the new identities and competencies that emerged in response to these challenges. Ranging from consumption to daily rhetoric, and from urban geography to health care, this study illuminates the relationship between crisis and normality and adds a new dimension to the debates about postsocialist culture and politics.

Author Bio

Olga Shevchenko is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Williams College.


"Elegantly written and insightful, [this book] offers important new understandings of the struggles and strategies that Russians undertake to manage life amidst post-Soviet transition" —Michele Rivkin-Fish , author of Women's Health in Post-Soviet Russia

"A sensitive, thoughtful, and compelling portrait of life in Moscow during the final years of the last century by an observer who truly knows whereof she speaks. This is ethnography at its best." —Kai Erikson, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Sociology and American Studies, Yale University

". . . a sweeping panorama of everyday life that covers work, leisure, private life, and public (dis)engagement in postsoviet Russia." —D.N. Shalin, University of Nevada,
SOCIETY , 46 2009

"Olga Shevchenko's book leaves us with tools and a template for rigorous qualitative research that can benefit research in a wide range of cases of profound transformations." —Balazs Vedres, Central European University,

"This fascinating and elegantly written book will be of tremendous interest and use to scholars of Soviet/post-Soviet societies, particularly in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. . . . The accessibility of Shevchenko's writing will make this book useful for both undergraduate and graduate courses." —
The Russian Review , 69.3, July 2010

"Shevchenko's work is timely and should be of interest to anyone concerned with the nature and consequences of economic and social change as well as those with a curiosity for all things Russian." —
Slavonic and East European Reivew , Vol. 89.1, January 2011

"Olga Shevchenko's
Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow sets a very high standard of scholarship. A thoughtful, innovative and thought-provoking study, this book gives important insights into what proved to be one of the most dramatic episodes in Russia's recent history. . . . This book is an invaluable contribution to the study of contemporary Russia, with its mulitple paradoxes and contradictions." —Cultural Sociology , Vol. 5.1, 2010

"[This] book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in postcommunist transition and its effect on day-to-day living. It will also be a great resource in undergraduate classes on market transitions, contemporary Russia and consumption." —
Contemporary Sociology

"[Shevchenko's] fascinating and insightful survey shows how the ethnographical approach may cast new light on social and economic stakes in Russia, and highlights the role of cultural categories in times of large-scale social change." —Europe-Asia Studies

"[A]n innovative contribution to the sociological study of quotidian life, alas not life under ordinary cir- cumstances. Shevchenko s book stretches beyond micro-sociological concerns towards fuller understanding of broad concepts such as social change, crisis and normality. The book is an ambitious effort to apprehend the sociological relationship between crisis and normality in the dramatic decade of change that followed communism's collapse. . . . [A]n illuminating, engaging contribution . . . ." —Social Forces

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Living on a Volcano
2. How the Crisis of Socialism Became a Postsocialist Crisis
3. A State of Emergency: The Lived Experience of Postsocialist Decline
4. The Routinization of Crisis, or On the Permanence of Temporary Conditions
5. Permanent Crisis, Durable Goods
6. Building Autonomy in Everyday Life
7. What Changes When Life Stands Still
8. Conclusion

Appendix 1. Methodology
Appendix 2. List of Respondents
Appendix 3. List of Interviewed Experts
Appendix 4. Discussion Topics
Works Cited