The Slavonic Society was recently fortunate to hear Professor Diane Koenker speak about the rise of consumerism in the former Soviet Union, where she argued that there was a constant tension between the demands of citizens and the ideology of the state.

Explaining that consumerism in the Soviet Union often stemmed from a dedication to achieving the ‘good life’ where there would be an ‘abundance for all’, Professor Koenker noted that this ideal became increasingly incompatible with the reality of human nature

Selfless service ended up clashing with rising consumerism, resulting in growing strain between Soviet citizens who ‘worked’ and those who were ‘service workers’, providing service in shops and restaurants

Professor Koenker’s research focus on the experiences of ordinary Russians provided a real insight into the agency of individual citizens to disrupt the workings of the state, enabling an eventual Soviet decline.