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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Function of Family

The government has assumed many functions of the pre-Soviet family. Various public institutions, for example, have taken responsibility for supporting individuals during times of sickness, incapacity, old age, maternity, and industrial injury. State-run nurseries, preschools, schools, clubs, and youth organizations have taken over a great part of the family's role in socializing children. Their role in socialization has been limited, however, because preschools had places for only half of all Soviet children under seven. Despite government assumption of many responsibilities, spouses were still responsible for the material support of each other, minor children, and disabled adult children.

The transformation of the patriarchal, three-generation rural household to a modern, urban family of two adults and two children attests to the great changes that Soviet society has undergone since 1917. That transformation has not produced the originally envisioned egalitarianism, but it has forever changed the nature of what was once the Russian Empire.

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Excellent monographs analyzing Soviet society include Soviet Economy and Society by David Lane and Modern Soviet Society, originally published in French, by Basile Kerblay. In Poverty in the Soviet Union and other articles and books, Mervyn Matthews discusses the problems of poverty and low wages in certain sectors of the Soviet economy. Providing a general overview of the Soviet Union, Vadim Medish's The Soviet Union contains useful insights into Soviet society, as does the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union. In their monograph Modernization, Value Change, and Fertility in the Soviet Union, Ellen Jones and Fred W. Grupp provide useful information on the position of women in Soviet society and on male and female roles.

Genia K. Browning's Women and Politics in the USSR focuses on the position of Soviet women in society in general and Soviet feminism in particular. Gail Warshofsky Lapidus has written several informative books and articles on Soviet women. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of May 1989