Alexey S. Titkov

MSSES, Moscow, Russia

The article restores the theoretical logic on which the research project “Soviet Man” based on the group of Yuri Levada is based. Based on the project’s publications, the “early” model was reconstructed, which included a set of attitudes toward the “antinomies” of the Soviet system, and a later one, which emphasizes a set of adaptive characteristics (“adapted”, “two-faced”, etc.). The empirical and theoretical foundations that prompted the authors of the project to abandon the original hypothesis about the “disappearing type” of Soviet man are being clarified. There is a connection between the dynamics of the “Soviet Man” project and the early theoretical works of Yuri Levada in the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, a shift in his interests from structural analysis to action problems. The theoretical prerequisites of the critical texts of the Levada of the post-Soviet period (the concepts of “social change”, “degenerate case”) are being
clarified. The role of the general methodological guidelines of the Levada group is emphasized: “transposing” the concepts of Western sociology in describing the Soviet / Russian case; elucidation of the historical context in which the terms arose; comparison with the “generalized West”, the obligatory linking of research tasks to the “big problems” of their society (state). The possibilities of updating (“reverse transposing”) the theoretical developments of Levada within the framework of the academic community that does not share the basic methodological principles of the project are discussed. As possible topics for academic discussion, a comparison of the concepts of modernization in the USSR proposed by Levada and late Parsons in the System of Modern Societies is proposed, as well as the possibilities of the Levada concept for explaining and predicting social changes across generations (decades).
Keywords: Levada, Soviet Man, USSR, post-Communist transition, generation studies