Women and Social Change in Socialist Societies, with Special Reference to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
thesisposted on 09.12.2010, 11:38 authored by Alena Heitlinger
The thesis examines and evaluates the effects of socialist transformation in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia on the position of women. The changes which had taken place are examined historically, i.e. from 1917 for the Soviet Union and from 1945 for Czechoslovakia, to the present time. The main explanatory variables are the spheres of economics (productivity and the need for women's labour); ideology (Marxist commitment to women's emancipation); politics (upbringing of children in line with the objectives of the Communist Party and the need for political support of women as a social group); socialist feminism (its auxilliary character within the over-all working class movement and the implication of this for the role of women and the Party strategy towards women) and demography (the need to enhance the population growth). The ways in which these spheres mutually correspond to or conflict with each other, as well as a specific Party objective at a particular time, is seen as explaining much of the making of the socialist policy towards women and the family. This policy is then contrasted with the objective daily reality of Soviet and Czech women. The role of women is explained in terms of mutual reinforcement of the private sphere of the family and the reproduction of labour power; the social sphere of production, and the pre-industrial sexual division of labour. It is argued that these forces form the 'root' causes of persisting women's inequality within the family and in society at large.