This edited volume explores the complexity of choice in Russia and Ukraine. It seeks to understand how the new choices available to people after the collapse of the Soviet Union have interacted with and influenced gender identities and gender, and how choice has become one of the driving forces of class-formation in countries which were, in the Soviet era, supposedly classless.
Co-editors: Lynne Attwood and Marina Yusupova
The end of socialism in the Soviet Union and its satellite states ushered in a new era of choice. On the most basic level, there were more imports from the West, resulting in a variety of consumer products unimaginable under socialism. Borders were opened, providing the chance to travel. Life-constraining legislations were revoked, such as the ban on homosexuality, making it easier for people to make choices about their sexual lives. Changes in housing distribution, and the relaxation of official attitudes towards what constituted a ‘normal’ family, enabled people to choose how they lived and with whom.
Yet the idea that people are really free to live as they choose is highly problematic. Personal choice is limited by a range of factors such as a person’s economic situation, class, age, government policies and social expectations, especially regarding gender roles. Furthermore, the notion of free choice is a crucial feature of capitalist ideology, and can be manipulated in the interests of the market.