Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Cyril Levitt
The dissertation is a study of the 1985 alcohol policy reform in the Soviet Union. The task is to explain the making and failure of the policy, and to examine the policy as a case in rule creation in society. More specifically, I analyze the policy-making in terms of symbolic politics, moral entrepreneurship, and the prohibitive measures it led to as a reaction to alcohol abuse. Each of these concepts offers a partial explanation of rule creation. Yet, none adequately explains the policy repeal, much less the creation of informal social definitions of right and wrong. Similar to alcohol prohibitions in the USA, Finland and Canada, the Soviet alcohol reform effort attempted but ultimately did not succeed in changing the social definition of alcohol and drinking. This is in contrast to cannabis, opium and cocaine prohibitions that aimed to preserve existing definitions and have been largely successful around the world. The relationship between formal and informal definitions is addressed as a key element in any understanding of variations in the fate of moral reforms. From this standpoint, the post-reform period comes to be viewed as a distinct stage wherein the viability of a proposed definition is tested. Presently dominant approaches to the definitional process appear to limit their own potential in that they refuse to reconsider assumptions that can be shown erroneous, do not differentiate between dissimilar processes and settings, do not ask more pointed research questions and do not stimulate empirically grounded and verifiable explanations. To redress these limitations, I offer a critical reexamination of both the moral entrepreneur and claims-making approaches to social definition-making.
Levine, Misha Boris, "The 1985 alcohol reform in the USSR: A case of rejected moral reform" (1999). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1825.