Khrushchevka, kommunalka: socialism and daily life during the «thaw».  Cover Image

Хрущевка, коммуналка: социализм и повседневность во время «оттепели»
Khrushchevka, kommunalka: socialism and daily life during the «thaw».

Author(s): C. Varga-Harris
Subject(s): History
Published by: Издательство Исторического факультета СПбГУ
Keywords: Russia; Soviet Union; «thaw»; Khrushchev; postwar; housing; separate apartment (otdel'naia kvartira); everyday life (byt; povsednevnaia zhizn'); petitioning; socialist ideology; state paternalism; normalcy

Summary/Abstract: Set within the context of the massive campaign that Khrushchev initiated to provide each family its own apartment, this article asserts that mutual preoccupation with housing served as a foundation for the Soviet state and populace to construct a «normal» socialist society after Stalinism and World War - one based on material advancement and humaneness. The first part of the article connects the housing policy of the 1950s and 1960s to the revolutionary state goal of providing the proletariat dignified living conditions. The second part analyzes petitions for better housing submitted to officials by Leningraders who continued to inhabit decrepit old buildings as the supply of new apartments failed to keep pace with demand. This unpublished correspondence belied the capabilities of state construction to adequately resolve the housing crisis by depicting a degree of continuity from prewar and wartime circumstances in the sphere of daily life. At the same time, the fact that petitioners appropriated official discourse to demand that the authorities allocating housing honor state promises suggests that their objectives strongly converged with official ones. These aims included a decent home for the ordinary person to live in tranquility, enjoy family life, and, simply, feel like a human being.

  • Issue Year: 1/2011
  • Issue No: 01
  • Page Range: 160-166
  • Page Count: 7
  • Language: Russian