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Category: History


C.A. Bakanov

The SMALL SOVIET CITY of 1960 - the 80th


Modern researches in line with social history showed that for more detailed consideration of macrohistorical processes it is necessary to consider and analyze changes in a microenvironment. But the introduction on the microhistorical horizon demands determination of scale of the analysis. Level of such localized social community what the city is became one of scales. This specific level of microspace demanded from the researchers who entered on it, appeals to a perspective, new to them. The direction in historical science which is engaged in city subject just begins to be formed, but it already received the name of historical urbanistics. In its framework different aspects of life of the cities of the Middle Ages and Modern times, however the latest historical period in which the cities gained enormous value as the place of activity of most of the population are already studied, gets to attention of historians of an urbanization few. Especially it is characteristic of the history of the Soviet cities. There is no historiographic tradition on studying the Soviet city, especially post-war decades, simply. Therefore it is advisable when studying city subject on the Soviet period to use cross-disciplinary approach and to address experience of scientific other humanitarian specialties.

1960 - the 80th of steel for the USSR an era of urbanizatsionny transition when the urban population grew from 50% to 7 0% of all population of the country. Generally such enormous growth happened at the expense of the large cities. The small and average cities were kind of switched off from this process, except for state programs of development of the most perspective of them. For example, programs of construction in Naberezhnye Chelny and Togliatti of automobile plants. From need of optimization of similar programs there was a need for studying a role and the place of the small and medium cities for new conditions of an urbanization. Studying this problem happened not from scratch as by 1960th the Soviet urbanistics was already rather developed field of knowledge which applied for the status of independent science.

In 192 9 g the discussion about the nature of socialist resettlement in which economists, town-planners, schedulers, physicians participated was developed. The refusal of "a capitalist way of concentration of the population" and transition to "uniform socialist resettlement on the basis of destruction of contrast between the city and the village" became the main conclusion of the discussion continuing nearly three years. Since the time of K. Marx the overcoming this contrast was considered as a necessary condition of a victory of a communistic system. Among

participants of a discussion two main approaches to the solution of a contradiction between the city and the village were allocated. Some (extreme urbanists) suggested to reconstruct immediately life on the collectivist beginnings, to create the new cities with enormous houses communes and full nationalization of life and to translate all population of the country in these a gipergorod. Other (dezurbanist) suggested to disaggregate already existing cities, thereby having brought closer them to the village. However both of these extremes in the 30th were rejected. 1 Instead of the ways offered by urbanists and dezurbanist the intermediate concept was adopted: it was decided to limit growth of large and to stimulate development of the small and medium cities, at the same time individual dwellings of citizens in the cities remained that had to make differences between the city and the village not so considerable.

Since the end of the 30th the studying problems of the cities begins to pass from the plane of architecture and town planning into the plane of economic geography. In many respects it was connected with distribution in the European geographical science of concepts of spatial hierarchy of the inhabited places which generated a discussion about a technique of creation of complex typology of the cities.

In the USSR one of founders of the Soviet economic geography professor N.N. Baransky for the first time has come up with the idea of need of creation of such typology in 194 6 g. From this point work on creation of complex tipologiya and classifications of the cities to which, besides economgeograf, economists were connected began. The enthusiasm with which scientists undertook development of subject, new to themselves allowed in 1959 to G. Davidovich in the "geografii Voprosy" magazine to put forward the idea about a possibility of registration of separate science about the city. There were so many works that in 1964 their first attempts appear


generalization and systematization in O.A. Konstantinov's articles.

Khruschev's decade was the most fruitful in formation of the Soviet urbanistics. During this period fundamentals of functional typology of the cities which will find the development in the mid-sixties for in works of B.S. Horev, F.M. Listengurt, V.G. Davidovich, G.M. Lappo and other scientists are developed. The CPSU set as the purpose the fastest permission in the USSR of a contradiction between the city and the village, and therefore with a particular interest treated the ideas of urbanists. New agrarian policy (integration of villages, restriction of personal subsidiary farms, introduction of salary and pensions for collective farmers and many other things), activization of civil engineering, creation of territorial economic councils, development of new territories, development of the small and medium cities - all this elements of uniform policy of construction to 198 0 g of communistic society. As party ideologists considered, economic and cultural prerequisites were for this purpose already created, and it was necessary only to intensify economic development and to overcome some remnants, one of which, according to them, was a system of resettlement and placement of human resources.

In the 60th the whole research institutes, such as GIPROGOR and TsENII of the State Planning Committee of RSFSR begin to be engaged in studying problems of the cities. "Field" economic surveys of certain regions are carried out: E.V. Knobelfers and B.R. Pavchinsky - the Leningrad Region, G.M. Lappo - Moscow, A.V. Bogdanovich - Belarus. The most important step was made the State Planning Committee of RSFSR which charged to Council for studying productive forces (SoPS) to start creation of short technical and economic characteristics (passports) of the cities. For the first time such characteristics were made by planning commissions of the economic region in 19 64 g. Then planned and statistical bodies on places filled out these "passports" by the technique developed in SoPS. On the basis of short technical and economic characteristics of the cities of SoPS and TsENII of the State Planning Committee of RSFSR prepared "The list of the cities recommended for further industrial development" for the approval of each five-year plan.

The first list was made for 1966 - 197 0 and included 52 9 cities (70% from them - average and light-middleweight, 2 5% - small). The list covered only 13.4% of the small cities and 55% light-middleweight. Thus, lists were aimed first of all not at activization of small city settlements, and at the solution of a problem of strengthening of industrial development of average and light-middleweight. At selection of the cities for the list proceeded mainly from presence of the labor contingents, building sites, minerals, water and energy resources, transport communications. Security with housing stock, engineering equipment, security with cultural and household institutions, power of local construction base, the number of operating enterprises, average number of their personnel and cost of their funds and also existence of the passing buildings according to the plan were to a lesser extent considered


capital construction.

In addition, the State Planning Committee of RSFSR in 1965 and 1967 held two interdepartmental meetings on population geography which materials were published. At these meetings ways of further development of a system of resettlement of the USSR were offered. At the initiative of SoPS in 1967, collective work of "A way of development of the small and medium cities of Central economic regions of the USSR" under D.G. Hodzhayev's edition which became basic for studying problems of small city settlements was published. On material of "field" inspections the authors carried out the serious analysis of a general economic situation in the small cities of the Central and Volga-Vyatka economic region and also their economic situation concerning the cities of other regions of the country.

For all 70th the hierarchical position of the cities in the systems of resettlement was the main subject in studying city subject. In 1971 there was a concept of a uniform system of resettlement in the USSR developed by B.S. Horev and D.G. Hodzhayev. Authors offered approach to all-union uniform

structure of resettlement as to a complex of hierarchically connected systems which connected all settlements of the country in a uniform hierarchical system. The following systems of resettlement were allocated: a) intraeconomic, b) intereconomic, c) regional, d) interdistrict, e) regional, e) interregional, g) republican, h) regional (including several economic region), i) all-union.

Apparently from the offered hierarchy, it is not only by the administrative principle, but also taking into account really operating economic communications. It was a serious step on overcoming Stalin tradition of administrative division of the territory proceeding from simplicity of management. The idea of a uniform system of resettlement allowed to consider in a new way the relations between the city and the village.

The first in development this idea there was a concept of group systems of the inhabited places developed by A.V. Kochetkov and F.M. Listengurt, directed to transition in town-planning practice from rather autonomous to more interconnected development of settlements. Such group systems of the inhabited places had to develop in zones about 1.5 - 2-hour radiuses of availability of the main cities of the country. Actually it was the concept of economic agglomeration of city settlements which did not extend to rural areas. Such scheme reflected the valid economic communications better, but did not consider the developed administrativnoterritorialny division of the country in practice. Regional and regional levels were underestimated, and in the territory of federal republics it was offered to form the regional systems of resettlement, actually equating them to large regions, thereby belittling their political status. For these reasons this concept was not adopted. 4

In 1977 in Saransk the conference on problems of concentration of social production recommending to refuse approach to overcoming contrast between the city and the village in which the idea of their parallel development as at such look the village remains rather closed system not capable to provide to the inhabitant of rural areas of all complex of cultural and community services prevails was held. More expedient approach at which development of the village goes on the way of its integration with the city began to be considered. "The city and the village have to be considered as integrally interconnected components of a uniform public organism in which all social institutes are available to any person irrespective of his residence and nature of work".

At implementation of the integrative scheme "the city-the village", also the rural areas which were excluded from schemes of resettlement of city agglomerations earlier began to be among the agglomerated territories. It answered problems of creation of territorial agro-industrial complexes which meaning was in transferring of processing enterprises to places

productions of agricultural products. Proceeding from these tasks, there was an offer not to "smear" financial and material resources across all territory of the area, not to direct capital investment in construction of social infrastructure facilities directly in the village, and to develop the city regional center that on condition of pendular migration and development of raionwide infrastructure will be the most effective remedy of the solution of cultural and community problems of the village.6

All offered concepts put the small city on the functional place in the uniform system of resettlement or as the center of the agricultural area, or as the satellite town as a part of agglomeration. Functional approach to the city and its participation in territorial division of labor dominated. Even typology of the cities were developed by the functional principle (industrial centers, the transport centers, scientific centers, the local centers, resorts, etc.). The small city as a unique form of the social organization localized in space for the Soviet urbanistics did not represent independent value. And therefore scientists were engaged in studying problems of the small city only for optimization of human resources of any given territory. Outflow from the small cities of able-bodied population often contacted percussions "buildings of communism" and was not even considered as a serious problem.

So, G.M. Lappo in a number of works wrote that it is illegal to consider outflow of the population in all cases as an indicator of degradation of the city, giving a part of natural increase, the city does not curtail the activity, and, on the contrary, in many cases increases city-forming base and strengthens the role in the area. O.A. Konstantinov specially investigated dynamics of the small cities in 192 6 - 1959 and came to a conclusion that nascence of the new cities to 20 thousand people happens to the population quicker, than development of the small cities into average and big that demonstrates, according to him, "survivability" of the small cities as types of the settlement and their efficiency in realization of the functions in the uniform system of resettlement.

Unfortunately, nobody analyzed the subsequent dynamics of the small cities: for 1960 - 1990. And this dynamics will be very indicative as, by estimation, about 30% of the small cities did not develop in this period or actively lost the population.

The reasons of outflow were studied also during the Soviet era. For example, in collective work "The small city. A social and demographic research of the town" authors call the following among factors of reduction of the population in the small cities: concentration of new construction in the large cities, slow rates of gain of jobs in the small cities, an imbalance of gender and age structure in some settlements, monofunctionality and monospecialization of city-forming base. However nobody paid attention to scope which was already reached by stagnation of the small cities, and on duration of this phenomenon. Researches of the reasons of decline on were not conducted

to the certain cities or their groups that did not allow to distinguish from stagnation factors leading for any given type of settlements.

Therefore during the Soviet era the serious decisions promoting a conclusion of the stagnating cities from crisis were not made.

The modern situation in the country towns of Russia aggravated the crisis processes shown during the Soviet period. In spite of the fact that problems of the small cities were not peripheral for the Soviet urbanistics, directly nobody was engaged in studying the stagnant and crisis phenomena in the cities.

meanwhile the problems demanding the fastest permission collected enough. Therefore the splash in interest in city subject in the 90th is not accidental. So, directly collective work under V.Ya. Lyubovny's edition "The crisis cities of Russia" is devoted to problems of the small cities in the conditions of a transitional economy. The group of authors considers the modern problems of the small cities in connection with trends of their development during the Soviet period.

Economists and sociologists some of the first realized need of search of new instruments of management of urban economy for new economic conditions. Actively the western experience of the solution of these problems began to be attracted. There were special grants for local government officers,

intended just for adaptation of this experience to the Russian conditions. For these grants the concepts of morphology of economic and social space of the city developed by the Chicago school of economists are key. The space of the city is understood as the non-uniform environment having a number of zones, specific to each city: landscape, economic, ecological, cultural, recreational, etc. Of these zones there is also a morphology of city space influencing a spatial segregation of city objects and, eventually, on the cost of the land plots.8 However the Russian city was extremely specific on the morphology, and authors of these works were forced to recognize need of search of such peculiar features and the analysis of factors of development of the Russian city during the Soviet era.

In economic geography the 90th became time of generalization of knowledge accumulated during the previous period taking into account the western researches on geography of the cities which became available. A specific place is held here G.M. Lappo's work "Geography of the cities" 9 and collective work "By the city and the village in the European Russia: hundred years of changes". 10

The first research is generally turned to reconsideration and theoretical synthesis of experience of the Soviet economic geography in issues of geographical studying the cities of Russia.

The second is completely devoted to the analysis of the changes in structure of resettlement of the country which took place in the 20th century, to examination as the Soviet era affected territorial distribution

population of Russia. Also dynamics and a condition of the cities in the second half of the 20th century is described, the main problems of the small cities of Russia are touched. The conclusion to which authors come is that the Soviet era left the most serious mark on development of all cities of the USSR, affected their shape, structure, economy, the population, proved in all spheres of city life. But industrial centers among which the considerable share was made by the small cities underwent the main transformation. Roots of crisis of the small cities in 60 - the 90th, authors consider, it is necessary to look for in specifics of the Russian urbanization passing under control of the state.

A.S. Senyavsky's work "The Russian city in 1960 - the 80th years" became an important stage in development of domestic urbanistics. This the first and, unfortunately, so far the only historical research which is on a substantial scale tracing development of the city settlements of Russia in post-war decades. The author covers a number of the major aspects of the Russian urbanization: the place of the city as element of a public system of the USSR, the republican specifics of the Russian city distinguishing it from other cities of the country, influence of a command system on development of the Soviet city, a role of the cities in crisis of all Soviet system.11

In culturological science about the city the main becomes a city problem as carrier of meanings, trends and intrinsic features of the organization of activity of society. The city begins to be understood as the difficult sociocultural organism which is constantly developing and integrating the systems of the relations of the society presented to them, acting difficult sotsioprogrammy coding and broadcasting meanings and the maintenance of the urbanized life forms. 12 T.I. Alekseev treat the city system as an ecosystem, a biogeocenosis and allocates a number of signs inherent in it: integrity, dynamism, openness, integrity, functionality and hierarchy of structure, redundancy and self-restriction of system elements, ability to self-organization which is expressed in an emerdzhentnost (abilities to sudden emergence of new properties and qualities, earlier to it not inherent), and, as a result, nonlinearity and alternativeness of development. The dynamic nature of a system speaks about system contradictions peculiar to it which are capable to lead or to destruction of all system, or to its transformation that testifies to its neravnovesnost.13

Resistance of the city system to these contradictions and to external circumstances is provided not with the number and quality of elements of structure, but type of communications between them. Definition of the city as system object, according to T.I. Alekseeva, looks as follows: the city is the spontaneous, self-regulating through behavior of people, thermodynamic open system including set anthropogenic - technical, social, economic, etc. - subsystems.14

Feature of the city system is that self-control in it is implemented through the conscious choice of citizens. The person as the carrier of cultural and social experience is "quantum" of this system. In this sense the city is the integration of sociocultural experience of its population localized in space. The person in the activity is forced to choose constantly the directions and tactics of development. Owing to these features the city, being opened, constantly is in dynamics, in a condition of the choice. Changes as a result of the constant choice collect continuously while under their cargo all organization of a system does not begin to change. Such moments of transition to new quality are also bifurcation points for the city system.

A. Neshchadin and N. of Gorin15 explain this process through the categories of "call" and "answer" offered Toynbee. They consider the city within a macrosystem as target community with special type of the social organization most of which common goal is "answer" to macrosystem "call". The history of the cities, from their point of view, is cyclic and connected with a possibility of satisfaction with them of certain social requirements. After a phase of the ascending development the city passes or into a phase of inertial existence or, reacting to new "call", begins a new cycle of development. With loss of socially significant function the sotsioobrazuyushchy kernel collapses, and the city stops the existence. Stability of the city as systems and potential of its development by that is higher, than the city is capable to realize more socially significant functions.

These authors, after Mezhevichem16, consider backbone and integrative first of all functional communication of the city with a macrosystem, believing meaning of existence of the city its "service" to society in general. The forms of the organization of activity lying in foundation of the city are defined by character and scale of its mission. Unfortunately, the integrating role of the internal needs of the population of the city which are shown owing to its sociocultural experience is not considered. A. Neshchadin and N. Gorin offer the concept of the historical cycles in development of the city consisting of three phases: ascending, accompanied with rapid growth of the population; inertial when the number of the population and market capacity of work are in compliance and development of the city continues in development of its infrastructure; descending when owing to any given reasons the city begins lose the resident population.17 at the same time the descending phase can't come if the population of the city finds the answer to a new call of macro environment.

Similar culturological interpretations allow to look in a new way at self-development mechanisms in the Russian small city 60 - the 80th and more accurately to see interrelation of its development with the Soviet macro environment which defined its specifics and possible options of self-control.

In general experience of domestic urbanistics, certainly, is useful to the historians who are engaged in history separate

cities, local history, historical urbanistics. As sources of modern crisis of the small cities lie in other historical era, and process of stagnation continued for several decades of the Soviet history, historians have to tell the word in development of this subject. Without forgetting at the same time about prospects

interdisciplinarity. Conclusions of such historical research can become, in turn, base for the further analysis of a problem economists, town-planners and specialists in municipal management.


1 V.E. Hazanova. Soviet architecture of the first five-years period: problems of the city of the future. M, 1980. Page 43 - 62.
2 O.A. Konstantinov. Geographical studying city settlements in

USSR: Population geography in the USSR. M.; L., 1964; It . Typology and

classification of city settlements in the Soviet economical and geographical science//Materials on population geography. Issue 2. L., 19 63; It .

Studying network of city settlements in the Soviet economical and geographical science//Materials of the first interdepartmental meeting on population geography. Issue 7. L., 19 65.

3 Small city: Social and demographic research of the town. M, 1972. Page 196 - 197
4 E.M. Markov. Development of the small and medium cities. M, 1983. Page 17 - 20.
5 An urbanization and development of the cities in the USSR. L., 1985. Page 61 - 62.
6 In the same place. Page 131.
7 Crisis cities of Russia: Ways and mechanisms of social and economic rehabilitation and development. M, 1998.
8 V.S. Zanadvorov, A.V. Zanadvorova. City economy. M, 1998; Vaginas

V.V. Urban sociology. M, 2000.

9 G.M. Lappo. Geography of the cities. M, 1997.
10 The city and the village in the European Russia: hundred years of changes. M, 2001.
11 A.S. Senyavsky. The Russian city in 1960 - the 80th years. M, 1995.
12 The city in processes of historical transitions: Theoretical aspects and sociocultural characteristics. M, 2001. Page 8.
13 T.I. Alekseeva. City as spontaneous system: Contours of a new paradigm//City as sociocultural phenomenon of historical process. M, 1995.
14 The city in processes of historical transitions: Theoretical aspects and sociocultural characteristics. M, 2001. Page 107 - 111.
15 A. Neshchadin, N. Gorin. City phenomenon: socio-economic analysis. M, 2,001.
16 M. Mezhevich. Social development of the city. M, 1978. Page 26.
17 A. Neshchadin, N. Gorin. Decree. soch. Page 30.
Matthew Gerald
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