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Within two generations the Soviet Union has made the transition from a peasant society to an industrialized superpower. Today it has the world’s largest scientific and technical establishment, surpassing that of the United States by almost one third. Nevertheless, the modernization of the Soviet Union is uneven. Indeed, in many aspects of rural and urban life the Soviet Union displays characteristics of an underdeveloped nation, which suggests that science and technology are less significant social forces there than in the modernized West. This book is the first to attest that science and technology have in fact been integral to the development of Soviet culture.
Close scrutiny is given both to the unique mechanisms that have given science and technology their prominence and to the distinctive, and recently liberalizing, effects they have had on intellectual and political developments in the Soviet Union. Included are the perceptive views of a dozen leading scholars who take on an unusually wide spectrum of topics—from communications technology to environmental issues, to science fiction and art, to bioethics and technocracy—while maintaining a consistent concern with the humanistic dimensions of the gargantuan enterprise of science. Loren Graham’s discerning introduction provides a broad context for examining the active role of science and technology in Soviet culture and politics.
This splendid volume will appeal to anyone searching for a deeper understanding of a superpower in ferment. It will be of special interest not only to historians of science and technology but also to psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers.