Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia

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In the annals of industrialization, the Soviet experience is unique in its whirlwind rapidity. The vast transformations that shook western Europe over the centuries - proletarianization, industrialization, urbanization - were in the Soviet Union telescoped into a mere decade. The working class grew at an unprecedented rate, changing in size and social composition. Even more striking was the critical role of women: in no country of the world did they come to constitute such a significant part of the working class in so short a time. As women flooded industries traditionally dominated by men, they undercut strict hierarchies within the factories and forced male workers to reexamine their ideas about skill, "masculine" and "feminine" work, and the role of women in the workplace. The state's use of female labor was closely intertwined with the great upheavals of early Soviet history: accumulation of capital for the industrialization drive, the urban food crisis, collectivization, and peasant migration to the cities. Based on new Russian archival materials, Women at the Gates is the first social history of Soviet women workers in the 1930s. It is the story of a world remade, from above and from below, as planners "regendered" the entire economy and women entered the ranks of waged labor in unprecedented numbers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Goldman's excellent book is a valuable reference for scholars and students alike." The Russian Review

"Goldman presents a well-crafted, well-researched portrayal of women's roles in Soviet industrial development. It makes a contribution to our understanding of women's role in Soviet society and Soviet industrial development and can be used as a supplementary text in Russian history or women's studies' courses." History

"...this is a fine book. Its story is interesting, original, and important. Diligently researched, carefully presented, and excellently written, it deserves to be widely read." Autumn 2002

"This excellent study...is an engaging work that will interest both Russian specialists and those interested in women's issues." Canadian Slavonic Papers

"Goldman contributes to a deepening picture of Soviet life..." American Historical Review

"Goldman draws on an impressive amount of archival research to demonstrate the role of the party, government planning officials, women activists, and factory managers in promoting the participation of women in industrial production....Goldman's work is less convincing in its attempts to explain the contradictions in Soviet gender policy....Nonetheless, Goldman's book is an important and well-researched contribution to the social history of women during Soviet industrialization." Slavic Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521780643
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/25/2002
  • Pages: 314
  • Lexile: 1440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 Guarding the Gates to the Working Class: Women in Industry, 1917-1929 5
2 The Struggle over Working-Class Feminism 33
3 The Gates Come Tumbling Down 70
4 From Exclusion to Recruitment 109
5 "The Five-Year Plan for Women": Planning Above, Counterplanning Below 143
6 Planning and Chaos: The Struggle for Control 179
7 Gender Relations in Industry: Voices from the Point of Production 207
8 Rebuilding the Gates to the Working Class 234
Conclusion 278
Index 287
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