Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cultures, Music, and the State in Russia and Eastern Europe

Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cultures, Music, and the State in Russia and Eastern Europe

Language: English

Pages: 321

ISBN: 1498508758

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc explores the rise of youth as consumers of popular culture and the globalization of popular music in Russia and Eastern Europe. This collection of essays challenges assumptions that Communist leaders and Western-influenced youth cultures were inimically hostile to one another.

While initially banning Western cultural trends like jazz and rock-and-roll, Communist leaders accommodated elements of rock and pop music to develop their own socialist popular music. They promoted organized forms of leisure to turn young people away from excesses of style perceived to be Western. Popular song and officially sponsored rock and pop bands formed a socialist beat that young people listened and danced to. Young people attracted to the music and subcultures of the capitalist West still shared the values and behaviors of their peers in Communist youth organizations. Despite problems providing youth with consumer goods, leaders of Soviet bloc states fostered a socialist alternative to the modernity the capitalist West promised.

Underground rock musicians thus shared assumptions about culture that Communist leaders had instilled. Still, competing with influences from the capitalist West had its limits. State-sponsored rock festivals and rock bands encouraged a spirit of rebellion among young people. Official perceptions of what constituted culture limited options for accommodating rock and pop music and Western youth cultures. Youth countercultures that originated in the capitalist West, like hippies and punks, challenged the legitimacy of Communist youth organizations and their sponsors.

Government media and police organs wound up creating oppositional identities among youth gangs. Failing to provide enough Western cultural goods to provincial cities helped fuel resentment over the Soviet Union s capital, Moscow, and encourage support for breakaway nationalist movements that led to the Soviet Union s collapse in 1991. Despite the Cold War, in both the Soviet bloc and in the capitalist West, political elites responded to perceived threats posed by youth cultures and music in similar manners. Young people participated in a global youth culture while expressing their own local views of the world.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy (Athlone Contemporary European Thinkers)

Requiem for Communism

Witness (Cold War Classics)

Comrades!: A History of World Communism

Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century













fanzine Sniffin’ Glue printing three chords with the caption, “[T]his is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band,” resonated with those alienated by the requirements and compromises of being a rock musician in the GDR. Daniel Kaiser described punk gigs in the GDR: “You gathered and made music and had a party. It wasn’t about creating stars. It didn’t really matter who was on stage. . . . Back then [Michael] Kobs was the only one who could properly play an instrument.” 76 Punk

relaxation of tensions reduced Yugoslavia’s reliance on the West for economic, military, and political support. Consequently, while Party leaders were still not about to reemploy censorship, they decided that the CPY should return to playing a more active role in addressing the undesirable effects of Western popular music. This decision reflected the view that the experiment with the decentralization of decisionmaking in cultural affairs since 1950 had led to confusion and disorganization that

culminated in several days of concerts in Berlin by the best groups. 34 Another representative example of this mobilization was each country’s monopolistic state concert agency, which organized the overwhelming majority of nonsymphonic concerts. During the ideologically confusing moment of de-Stalinization, these concert agencies were forced to respond to a growing flood of popular music from the West that started to include rock and roll. They sought to adapt popular music concerts to the

képregény születése és halála Magyarországon,” Beszélő (Budapest), 1 (2005): 114–19. 10. Interview with János B., 26 March 2001. 11. “Galeri” (gang) in the singular, “galerik” (gangs) in the plural. 12. Wolf Middendorff, Judge, Federal Republic of Germany, “New forms of juvenile delinquency: their origin, prevention and treatment; report” (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1960), 35–36, 43, available online at

War History 8, no. 4 (2008): 427–47, and Yale Richmond, Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2003). 6. Irina Paperno, Stories from the Soviet Experience: Memoirs, Diaries, Dreams (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), xiii. Compare with another study based on memoirs and diaries from the Stalin era: Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006),

Download sample


Comments are closed.