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Informal Institutions of The Planned Socialism and Its Influence in The Prose of Sergey Dovlatov

Informal Institutions of The Planned Socialism and Its Influence in The Prose of Sergey Dovlatov

Journal of Institutional Studies, , Vol. 11 (no. 2),

The main hypothesis of this paper is that S. Dovlatov's prose contains detailed description of informal institutions of the Soviet planned economy and their influence on everyday economic decisions. Therefore, the study of this prose is useful for understanding the problems of the economic system of planned socialism, in particular, its lag behind the capitalist system and general degradation. As you know, S. Dovlatov considered himself not to be a “writer” who writes about what people live for, but a “storyteller” writing about how people live. However, he often talked about the experience of his own life: it is not by chance that most of his works are written in the first person. In general, the description of “how people live” will inevitably touch upon the norms of behavior of these people, the rules that affect their economic and social decisions, and these decisions themselves. Therefore, S. Dovlatov's prose can be considered as a reliable “cast” of the influence of informal and formal institutions of a planned economy on the standard of living of people, the possibility of their self-realization, as well as on the production potential of such an economy. In this regard, the work of S. Dovlatov may be useful for everyone involved in the comparative analysis of economic systems, in general, and in the analysis of planned economy in particular. The most important aspect is the restriction of economic freedoms, in particular, the freedom of entrepreneurship and, as a result, the impossibility of “finding oneself” and fully realizing it in a planned economy. Hence, the sense of absurdity and meaninglessness of life, the sense of hopelessness that so often embrace Dovlatov’s heroes. Furthermore, we can understand his interest to people who are trying to "get away from everyday life". They did it through drunkenness, idle pastime and other types of "immoral" behavior. In addition, special attention is paid to such phenomena of planned socialism of the USSR, as fartsovka and theft in enterprises. All these phenomena are comprehended both on the base of both institutionally oriented economic theory and S. Dovlatov’s works.


Keywords: informal institutions, planned socialism, Soviet economy, Dovlatov

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