ECON 107
Inequality in a Classless Society: The Soviet Experiment and its Aftermath Fall 2021
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ECON 107 / SOC 217

Class Details

All societies have to come up with some way of distributing wealth and income. In turn, individuals and groups comprising these societies grapple with, justify, and at times contest their place in social and economic hierarchy. Complex as they are, such processes are all the more pressing in societies built on the explicit promise of economic equality, as was the case in the USSR and socialist Eastern Europe. Using the combined perspectives offered by economics, history, and sociology, this course will trace the practices and lived realities of social differentiation and income/wealth distribution brought about by the socialist experiment and intensifying after its demise. We will explore the life of class in these supposedly classless societies, and its reconfiguration after 1991, approaching class as, simultaneously, a matter of social classification, consumption differences, cultural identity, economic policy, and political power. We will study how the economic and political developments of late-socialism and the transition period generated class-based differences in all walks of life, and ask what these experiments have to teach us about inequalities and persistent social and economic divisions closer to home.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1478
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation; small writing assignments and research exercises; and a final research project
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: 1st and 2nd-year students thinking about majoring in Anthropology, Sociology, or Economics
Unit Notes: This course cannot count toward the ECON major. It may be taken for the SOC major.
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ECON 107 Division II SOC 217 Division II
DPE Notes: The subject matter of this course is all about the origins, evolution, current structures, and implications of economic and social differentiation in a region quite apart from the United States. Moreover, by crossing disciplinary lines, we hope it will offer a particularly valuable perspective on such issues. Thus, we fell that it should naturally serve as a DPE course.

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