Cadres Promotions in 1917–1941:
Ambivalence of Upward Mobility

Feldman M.A.

Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Prof., Ural Institute of Management – Branch of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Yekaterinburg, Russia

DOI: 10.31857/S013216250009377-7
ID of the Article:

For citation:

Feldman M.A. Cadres Promotions in 1917–1941: Ambivalence of Upward Mobility. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 6. P. 93-102


Historians of the Soviet era noted with pride: during the first five-year plans, about 800–900 thousand nominees were promoted to top positions, including ca. 500 thousand in the sectors of the national economy; the rest held various positions in state power structures and party bodies. The fact that most of the nominees were yesterday’s workers was regarded by the leadership of the Bolshevik party as an outstanding victory for the Soviet system. In the present paper, based on analysis of historical literature, all-Union party census of 1927, statistical surveys of managerial staff of industry 1929, 1933, 1934 and 1936 I attempt to offer an objective assessment of the nature, dynamics, and historical role of ‘Vydvyzhenets’ as a form of social mobilization, which allowed to attract for the achievement of the First five-year plans personnel resources. It is noted that the nomination as a social process was caught at the intersection of the internal party struggles for the choice of course; the clash of approaches to feasibility of the NEP economy; the discussion about the permissibility and limits of the class struggle; the comparison of the industrialization practices and Marxist characteristics of class society. Party mobilizations (collective admission to the party) and party purges influenced the parameters of the nomination process. The economic chaos of the early 1930s, caused by the voluntarist decisions by Stalin and his associates, forced the leaders of the USSR to take a more realistic view of the potentialities of working-class community. It is concluded that the phenomenon of promotion was actually limited to the first five-year plan. Having allowed thousands of talented nominees to be promoted to top positions in the economic sphere, the nomination, at the same time, demonstrated a monstrous scale of personnel drop-out allowing us to speak about sacrificing a significant part of the nominated managers for the sake of industrialization.

nominees; workers; party; industrialization; five-year plans


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