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Social Science in the Soviet Union: Current Conditions and Trends Panel participants were asked to address: · current directions of change, including how one finds Soviets inter- ested in contacts with U.S. scholars; strengths, weaknesses, and needs within Soviet social and behav- . . ora. . science; · the range of U.S.~oviet contacts in particular fields; and · the implications of these conditions and trends for U.S. social science and scholarship. ETHNOGRAPHY AND ETHNIC RELATIONS Paul Goble, U.S. Department of State Goble discussed a series of changes in Soviet ethnography that he regarded as highly significant, in particular the sense of epiphany that ac- companied recent events in the Soviet Union. The appearance of new, young authors in Soviet journals and the publication of a series of con- ference reports in which younger Soviet scholars denounced the scholars and scholarship of the past appear especially important. Goble gained the strong impression that many Soviet scholars, especially the young, now re- gard scholarly life before 1985 as a vast desert in which nothing worthwhile was accomplished. He expressed considerable concern that the net result would be to forget the good work that was done in the 1960s and 1970s that can provide a solid basis for current work. In the same vein, he cited what he viewed as an unfortunate tendency to adopt Western ideas and methods wholesale. While this is very satisfying 7
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8 50~7ET SOCL4L SCIENCE and self-affirming for Western scholars, it could mean the loss of much valuable work. The Gorbachev era should not be an excuse for self- congratulation among American ethnographers. Goble also noted his concern that Western social scientists tended to use Soviet writings in ethnography only as a source of data and to believe that there are no theories and ideas from which the West could learn. He argued that, in fact, many Soviet theoretical writings are very good. Given how much is being published and how dramatic some of the individual findings are, Western scholars may forget how partial much of the information is. Goble also commented that Westerners needed to appreciate that glasnost has opened a door and that not all the work now coming through that door is worthwhile. He cited as an example the writings of Lev Gumulov, whose views on miscegenation would repulse most Americans. In discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Soviet ethnography, Goble cited the intensely practical focus of its research. Although this provides Western scholars with useful clues about policy interests and directions, it seriously distorts the kinds of research that scholars can do. He also worried that the "dead hand" of Marxism-Leninism would now be replaced by the "iron hand" of the market, with different but equally pernicious effects as self-financing forces institutes and scholars to favor research ventures that are profitable. Finally, Goble commented on the incredible proliferation of sources of information; an American scholar can no longer rely on a few journals and papers and assume that that is all the information available. For many issues, much of the information is available from sources outside Moscow, which are becoming far more accessible. As of January 1, 1990, Western scholars will be able to subscribe to all 275 regional newspapers at the oblast level, as well as many new journals. He argued that it is urgent for American institutions to gain some bibliographic control over this flood. INION, the ASUSSR's Institute of Scientific Information in the Social Sciences, produces as many as 20 bibliographies on ethnographic subjects a month, of which the Library of Congress receives only a quarter; few university libraries, with the exception of the University of Illinois, make any attempt to track these bibliographies. The result, he feared, will be that U.S. academics, overwhelmed with new data, will perform primarily as reporters rather than scholars. The recent events and the new resources are very exciting, and it will be a challenge to take advantage of the opportunities.
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SOVIET SOCIAL SCIENCE 9 ECONOMICS Ed A. Hewett, The Brookings Institution Hewett began with a benchmark, the state of the economics profes- sion in the mid-1980s before the rise of Gorbachev. More than 4,000,000 people were listed in Soviet labor statistics as economists. By contrast, the American Economics Association has 25,000 members. Of course, Soviet "economists" include many individuals who would not be counted as such in the West, such as industrial managers. The bunk of Western-style eco- nomics is practiced in the ASUSSR research institutes and the institutes of government ministries and the party. Before Gorbachev, academic eco- nomics functioned primarily to elaborate and justify the status quo. Both the theoretical foundations and the empirical traditions of the discipline were very weak Outright criticism was not tolerated; at most, one could suggest ways to perfect the system further. The two channels for protest were to gather and publish real data about the conditions and performance of the economy a powerful indictment and to do research in mathe- matical economics, which provided an abstract, essentially secret language political officials could not comprehend. Today the situation is very different. Economics is an exciting discipline these days, although many of the major reform ideas are still originating in other parts of the intelligentsia. A number of fascinating policy debates are under way, for example, over the definition of socialist property. Hewett agreed with Goble's observation about the tendency of Soviet scholars to reject all past thinking, commenting that he worried about the current Soviet fascination with an image of the market as the answer to all economic problems. Hewett noted that it is not possible for American scholars to take advantage of all the opportunities for contacts. Many new exchanges are springing up, often between universities and institutes, and it is difficult to keep track of the activities. This will lead to some inevitable inefficiencies as new projects reinvent the wheel, but the broadening of contacts is very positive. Hewett also noted as hopeful developments the number of younger Soviet economists taking part in exchanges and the increase in the participation of American economists who are not Soviet specialists. Among the most encouraging signs is the new access to non-ASUSSR institutes that had previously been off limits to foreign scholars. For exam- ple, he cited a recent exchange agreement between the research institute of Gosplan and the Russian Research Center at Harvard. For policy-oriented contacts, Hewett regarded the new Commission on Economic Reform headed by Academician Leonid Abalkin as especially important.
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10 SOVIET SOCIAL SCIENCE Hewett mentioned three important needs for Soviet economics. First, there is a tremendous need for training for graduate students and young professionals in both theory and methods. He suggested that both aca- demic economics and MBA programs could be valuable. Although Hewett does not believe that U.S. and European theory have ready answers to teach young Soviet economists, he does feel that learning how Western economists frame policy issues would be of great value. Second, on a prac- tical level, Hewett cited the need for sheer raw computing power, which personal computers were helping to provide, and the more fundamental need for good statistics. He argued that Soviet economic statistics require a wholesale reform and cited the exchange between the U.S. Census Bureau and Gosplan on national income statistics as a good sign. Finally, Hewett cited the need for policy advice, although he again commented that the Soviets may be too willing to listen uncritically to Western recommendations. Among the areas in which the Soviets need policy advice are monetary policy, antitrust policy, and the fostering of small businesses. In offering advice, he argued that U.S. social scientists needed to be honest brokers and to remain humble about the limits of their knowledge. The Soviets are trying to establish a socialist market economy, and, although Western economists believe they know a great deal about managing markets, they have little to offer about how to create one. There are many exciting opportunities for contacts and much interest in Western ideas, but U.S. social scientists have no magic to offer their Soviet counterparts. SOCIOLOGY Michael Swafford, Paragon Research International Swafford cited Academician Tatiana Zaslavskaya's description of Soviet sociology as "sociology without sociologists" as an apt summary of the state of the discipline until very recently. Of the 8,000 members of the Soviet Sociological Association, for example, fewer than 100 actually have degrees in sociology, and until last year there were no faculties of sociology at any Soviet university. In the last year, however, vast changes have begun as the Soviet government has given high priority to the development of sociology . .. . . as a genuine olSClp. One. Among the major changes mentioned by Swafford is a new emphasis on training. In all, 16 faculties of sociology have now been established in the Soviet Union, although this is a far more difficult effort than many Americans realize. A typical Soviet undergraduate will spend 2,000 hours in class in his or her major, approximately four times the U.S. average. The
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SOVIET SOCIAL SCIENCE 11 Soviets are well aware of the problems they face and are offering supple- mental courses of study for potential faculty. They are trying to translate textbooks from French and English (although the American Sociological Association has been understandably reluctant to pronounce any U.S. text- books the "best"~. Unfortunately, the Soviets are also retaining for the moment their centralized approach to textbook selection. In addition, as already mentioned, Soviet graduate students are being sent to the United States to study, and the Soviets are eager to have American lecturers in all areas of sociology. The surge of interest in public opinion research is another positive sign, and Swafford cited in particular the range of institutions becoming involved, from the ASUSSR to private entrepreneurs. The Institute of Sociology has recently published a catalogue of 40 available data sets that, although not available for export, may be used for collaborative projects. New regulations may also permit each republic to decide whether to export survey data. Swafford regarded Zaslavskaya's new All-Union Center for Public Opinion Research on Social and Economic Problems as the most important single development; however, he pointed out the enormous challenges any attempt to develop truly national polls must face, such as the fact that 100 languages are spoken in the Soviet Union, for which Russian is not an appropriate lingua franca, and cultural problems, such as the difficulty of interviewing Moslem women. He also expressed concern that too often Western reports simply cite poll results without any comments or caveats about their probable quality. Despite the positive trends, Swafford noted formidable problems that remain, such as the almost complete absence of pure sociology. The needs and interests of the government rather than the interests of scholars still drive the research agenda, and the sociological establishment is riven by old rivalries. Moreover, most good sociologists have found themselves drawn into the political process Zaslavskaya is a member of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies and Mikk Titma is the ideological secretary of the Estonian Communist Party- and so they are lost to teaching and research. Swafford also expressed a more grave concern that expectations had become too great, that sociology could not possibly provide answers to Soviet problems; he feared a backlash when it "failed." Swafford had a number of recommendations for what U.S. social science could do, such as training graduate students. He argued that this, along with support for current exchanges, will be the greatest help to the Soviets in establishing standards for their discipline. Although U.S. standards, which are based on competition, cannot be imposed on the Soviets, training and exchanges will go a long way to fostering the academic culture in which those standards develop. He also strongly advocated a summer institute in which U.S. lecturers would be sent to the Soviet Union
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12 . SOVIET SOCIAL SCIENCE to conduct graduate and postgraduate seminars. Acknowledging that the proposal was controversial, he also recommended supplying as many as 150 personal computers and conducting methodological training as part of the summer institute. He did not claim that quantitative sociology held particular answers but does strongly believe that this training was an essential part of what the Soviets needed. Finally, at home, he advocated more attention to training American sociologists as specialists in the Soviet Union, noting that two major universities had been unable to fill faculty vacancies. At present there are only a handful of such specialists. He added that, as the quality of Soviet data and research improve, American sociologists' own research will benefit, so that in the long run, helping the Soviets develop their discipline will serve our own interests as well. DISCUSSION A number of points surfaced in the discussion: · One participant commented that working with the Soviets lets us shape the quality of their data and gives us data to analyze, which will allow our graduate students to do genuine social science research with Soviet data. We also should try to strengthen the ability to do good research in the Soviet Union. . We need to increase the number, now very small, of American social scientists who have, in addition to their substantive expertise, an understanding of the Soviet Union. Because of the move to self-financing, some of the best Soviet social scientists are going into business to raise money. On economics, one participant noted that the science is very weak because the linear programming approach of the 1950s, which is neither Marxist nor non-Ma~xist, failed to evolve into a field of scientific economics. The reason is the lack of a scientific culture. Thus, the Soviet Union needs more than long-term graduate training, in which the culture of economics is learned. The Soviets should also be advised that even though they are in a rush to solve their domestic problems, they need to invest in their people, as the Japanese have done. Panelists agreed that the short-term emphasis on doing research for hard currency, which is the practice of some leading scientists (while also using their institutes' facilities!) is a serious problem. As a result, leading Soviet researchers find no time to train the next generation. Swa~ord added that Soviet sociology, like economics, has no scientific culture. Goble noted that changing culture is slow and can have unintended consequences: if more Soviets are trained in the United States, they may use the experience mainly to gain contacts for entrepreneurial research.
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SOVIET Sol SCIENCE 13 · One participant noted that the role of Soviet academic institutes is changing. In 1971, the Central Economic-Mathematical Institute reported that it had no contacts with Gosplan; by 1978, it was working jointly with Gosplan; and it now reports that it has developed an alternative plan for the Soviet economy. · One participant suggested that Americans need to think about long-term Soviet needs and that a major goal should be to encourage a movement away from monopolism in Soviet social science. One participant suggested that we should move from general lec- tures and symposia to joint research involving more junior people, including graduate students. Another commented that lectures, such as those that American sociologists recently delivered in Moscow, should be replaced by month-long training institutes. · One participant commented that the discipline of history is in such upheaval in the Soviet Union that for now we cannot contact the leading scholars. One suggested increasing Soviet contact with American schools of public policy. It was suggested that the Americans identify promising young Soviet scholars to be invited to come here. Wesley Fisher of IREX noted the difficulty of selection. In the new program of graduate training in sociology, only 31 of 100 initial applicants were given the right to apply, and many of these were the children of important figures. One participant noted problems with library exchanges, even though they have been going on for over 80 years. The old books are rotting, much is uncatalogued, and journal numbers are missing. There are inequalities: the Soviets need American library science techniques, and we would like access to their material and their great bibliographic apparatus. · One participant noted some additional problems and opportunities. One is housing: it is difficult to involve the good young researchers from outside Moscow because of the housing problem in Moscow. Another is the Soviet government agencies doing social science research that employ good researchers but do not yet have exchanges with the United States. A third is major institutional change: an article by ASUSSR President Marchuk in the new ASUSSR newspaper indicates that the whole Academy structure is in turmoil. The state statistical committee is also trying to make major changes.
Representative terms from entire chapter: