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Equality, Efficiency, and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education Policy, 1934-1980

Publication Abstract

Anderson, Barbara A., and Brian D. Silver. 1984. "Equality, Efficiency, and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education Policy, 1934-1980." American Political Science Review, 78(4): 1019-39.

Provision of schooling in the native language is an important regime policy that reflects a government's commitment to maintaining ethnic and linguistic diversity. This study tests hypotheses related to three principles that may have guided the use of non-Russian languages in Soviet schools: equality, efficiency, and political status. A newly generated set of data on the use of non-Russian languages in Soviet primary and secondary schools permits examination of aspects of Soviet language policy about which scholars previously lacked systematic information. The analysis does not support the interpretations suggested by others; official policy has neither shifted back and forth between a centrist and a peripheralist emphasis, moved inexorably in a russificationist direction, nor been absolutely egalitarian. Instead, the policy can be most appropriately described as a bilingual education policy that at the same time has long differentiated among the non-Russian nationalities on the basis of their population size, their geographic concentration, or their political status.

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