Russian & Soviet Science and Technology

Policy Studies

Because of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union in international relations, a competition necessarily involving science and technology, a large literature exists on science and technology policy in the Soviet Union. Few of these works are of interest to historians, but I will mention some that might be useful. Loren Graham takes a historical look at Soviet science policy in “The Development of Science Policy in the Soviet Union,” in Science Policies of Industrial Nations, edited by T. Dixon Long and Christopher Wright (New York: Praeger, 1975), pp. 12-58. An updated version includes Gorbachev’s reforms in science: see Graham, √íScience and Technology Trends in the Soviet Union,” in Framework for Interaction: Technical Structures in Selected Countries outside the European Community, edited by Herbert Fusfeld (Troy, N.Y.: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1987), pp. II-D-1 to II-D-44. Harley Baiter has also written on science under Gorbachev: “Is Less More! Soviet Science in the Gorbachev Era,” Issues in Science and Technology, 1985, 1(4):29-46. For a critical view of Soviet science written by a prominent researcher and administrator in the USSR, see Roald Sagdeev, “Science and Perestroika: A Long Way to Go,” Issues in Science and Technology, 1988, 4(4):48-52.

Paul Josephson discusses early Soviet science policy in “Science Policy in the Soviet Union, 1917–1927,” Minerva, 1988, 26(3):342-369. Soviet science policy in the period 1945-1975 is treated in Mark Adams, “Biology After Stalin: A Case Study,” Survey, No. 102, Winter 1977-1978, pp. 53-80. Works that describe the main institutions making science policy in the Soviet Union include E. Zaleski et al, Science Policy in the USSR (Paris: OECD, 1969); Paul Cocks, Science Policy USA-USSR, Vol. II (Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1980); and John Thomas and Ursula Kruse-Vaucienne’s edited volume Soviet Science and Technology (Washington, D.C.: George Washington Univ. Press, 1976).

An excellent analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of fundamental science in the USSR is Thane Gustafson, “Why Doesn’t Soviet Science Do Better Than It Does?” in The Social Context of Soviet Science (ed. Lubrano and Solomon; see Section I), pp. 31-68. This volume also contains articles by Bruce Parrott (on the organization of Soviet applied research), Linda Lubrano (on Soviet scientific collectives), Kendall Bailes (on the social backgrounds of technical specialists), and Loren Graham (on genetic engineering).

Important topics of discussion among Soviet science policy specialists have been the place of science in Marxist ideology and the role of “STR” (the “scientific-technical revolution”) in Soviet society. Helpful sources on these topics include Paul Josephson, “Science and Ideology in the Soviet Union: The Transformation of Science into a Direct Productive Force,” Soviet Union 1981, 8(2):159-185; Julian Cooper, “The Scientific and Technical Revolution in Soviet Theory,” in Technology and Communist Culture, edited by Frederic J. Fleron (New York: Praeger, 1977); Robert Miller, “The Scientific-Technical Revolution and the Soviet Administrative Battle,” in The Dynamics of Soviet Politics edited by Paul Cocks et al (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1976), pp. 137-155 and Erik Hoffmann, “Soviet Views of the Scientific-Technological Revolution,” World Politics July 1978, pp. 615-644.

An interesting article on the growth of scientific personnel in the USSR, portraying the Soviet overtaking of the United States in the number of research workers, is Louvan Nolting and Murray Feshbach’s “R and D Employment in the USSR” Science 1 Feb. 1980, 207:493-503. Nolting has also published a series of reports (Foreign Economic Reports, Department of Commerce) on the structure and organization of Soviet science and technology.

A recent and valuable analysis of the political role of Soviet science by Stephen Fortescue is The Communist Party and Soviet Science (London: Macmillan, 1987). Another book treating some of the same issues is Peter Kneen’s Soviet Scientists and the State (Albany: SUNY Press, 1984). Works written by emigres who previously worked in the Soviet science establishment provide special insights; these include Mark Azbel, Refusenik: Trapped in the Soviet Union (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981); Mark Popovsky, Manipulated Science (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979); and Vladimir Kresin, “Soviet Science in Practice: An Insider’s View,” in The Soviet Union Today, edited by James Cracraft (Chicago: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1983).

Three works treating Soviet industrial research from economic and political standpoints are Joseph Berliner, The Innovation Decision in Soviet Industry (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1976); Erik Hoffmann and Robbin Laird, Technocratic Socialism: The Soviet Union in the Advanced Industrial Era (Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press, 1985); and Raymond Hutchings, Soviet Science: Technology and Design Interaction and Convergence (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1976).

A topic of particular interest to American scholars who may wish to do research in the Soviet Union, no matter what the field, is the history of scholarly exchanges between the United States and the USSR. The most thoughtful analysis of the subject is by Linda Lubrano, “National and International Politics in USA-USSR Scientific Cooperation,” Social Studies of Science 1981, 11:451-480. Also see Review of USA-USSR Interacademy Exchanges and Relations, Report of the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C., 1977); and Yale Richmond, U.S.-Soviet Cultural Ex- changes 1958-1986: Who Wins? (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1987).

Forward and Introduction
General Histories
Special Subjects

Biological Science
Biomedical Sciences
Astronomy and Space Exploration
Geology and Technology
Policy Studies