The article analyzes the reception of the idea of convergence in Soviet economics from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s. It is predominantly concerned with convergence theory as a policy idea that inspired perestroika. Its central question is: Under the conditions of an authoritarian regime, how could an imported policy idea that bluntly contradicted official ideology reach a degree of dissemination and (among a specific stratum of the elite) popularity that would later turn it into a central pillar of reform policy? An important finding is that the idea of convergence united the Soviet “people of the sixties” and some Western “progressive” intellectuals who together formed a transregional epistemic community that only for a short period of time, at the end of the 1980s, gained political influence.
Shestidesyatniki Economics, the Idea of Convergence, and Perestroika
Joachim Zweynert is professor of international political economy at Witten/Herdecke University, Germany. His main research interests are in institutions and institutional change, and in the history of economic ideas. A regional focus of his research is on Central and Eastern Europe. His monograph A History of Russian Economic Thought, 1805–1905 (published in German and translated into Russian) was awarded the 2002 book prize of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought. His latest book, When Ideas Fail: Economic Thought, the Failure of Transition, and the Rise of Institutional Instability in Post-Soviet Russia, was published in 2017.
Joachim Zweynert; Shestidesyatniki Economics, the Idea of Convergence, and Perestroika. History of Political Economy 1 December 2019; 51 (S1): 277–299. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-7903336
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