Elena D. Tverdyukova. Westernization of consumer values in the USSR in the first postwar years (1945–1949) // Petersburg historical journal, no. 1, 2023, pp. 83–94
The article analyzes the trends of Westernization of consumption in Soviet urban society at the end of the Great Patriotic War (1945–1949). It is shown that since the middle of the 1930s the spread of Western cultural values began in the USSR, and the turn to consumerism was legalized. The process, interrupted by the war, was resumed with renewed vigor after foreign-made films, cars, and things brought back by the frontline soldiers as trophies and sent in humanitarian aid parcels began to arrive in the country on a mass scale. The author argues that the campaign against bourgeois values began even before the official announcement of the policy of isolation from foreign culture and opposition to cosmopolitanism. At the same time, the effect of the campaigns in the sphere of consumption was the opposite of what Soviet propaganda sought to achieve. The fight against Western consumerism was waged in an environment of total scarcity and the low quality of domestic clothing, footwear, and cultural and household goods, so that the media themselves largely formed an aura of prestige around foreign consumer goods. This led to the formation of a new culture of consumption, with a characteristic Soviet citizens’ desire to buy goods of foreign rather than domestic production.
post-war USSR, Western substance, consumers.
Tverdyukova, Elena Dmitrievna — Dr. in History, professor, Institute of History of St. Petersburg State University; leading researcher, St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences.