From Resistance to Commerce: Media and Popular Culture in Post-Communist Russia

April 25, 1996


Cold War era reporting gave Americans a two-tiered picture of the role of media and popular culture in the Soviet Union. On one level were the various state controlled apparatuses, such as radio, film, television and the press, which offered the “party line” to Soviet citizens. On another level were underground grassroots media, such as the rock cassette tape, the covert joke, samizdat publications, which expressed popular resistance to the state. What has happened to the status of these authorized and unauthorized media in Russia since the fall of Communism? How has rock music, for example, been affected by the opening up of the Russian market to western competition? How has the shift in economic relations and political freedom posed new problems regarding the circulation and regulation of previously prohibited material such as pornography? How have such “official” media as radio and television changed? Thomas Cushman is Chair of the Sociology Department at Wellesley College and the author of Notes from Underground: Rock Music Culture in Russia. Paul W. Goldschmidt, a political scientist, is completing a book on the regulation of pornography in Russia. David Woodruff’s research focuses on the political economy of contemporary Russia; he is a member of MIT’s Political Science Department.


Thomas Cushman
Wellesley College 
Paul Goldschmidt 
University of Wisconsin 
Moderator: David Woodruff 
Media Lab, MIT

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