Public Perceptions and the Dilemmas of Party Reform in the USSR

Donna Bahry, Brian D. Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although the literature on Soviet politics has described the breakdown of discipline and effectiveness of the party under Gorbachev's predecessors, it has paid little attention to individual differences in perceptions of the party and how these differences reflect differences in individual experiences. This study examines the relationship of individual differences in the perceptions of the honesty and competence of local and central party leaders to four background factors: ideological commitment to strong state or collective control, satisfaction with the material quality of life, perceptions of the qualities of primary party secretaries, and direct experiences in citizen-initiated contacts with the party. The study also examines the reasons people give for joining or not joining the party. It is argued that the very effort to hold party members to extremely strict codes of personal conduct, while reducing their special privileges, is likely to hurt the party's ability to recruit members. Moreover, the process of democratization has offered new, alternative avenues for individuals with political or moral agendas to become involved in the political process without joining the party.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-209
Number of pages39
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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