History of Communism in Europe

Volume 12/13, 2021/2022

Labour and Global Solidarity during the Long 20th Century / Youth and the Continuous Construction of Communism

Sofia Lopatina
Pages 119-140

Courtyard Groups
Youth Collective Practices and Soviet Visions of Social Control (1960-1965)

This article takes a closer look at two seemingly contradictory developments of the early 1960s – the broadening of socialist participation and proliferation of social control – and their impact on young people. It also aims to go beyond the state-society dichotomy by introducing the concepts of youth collective practices and control culture. The analysis will show that multiple state and non-state agents controlled courtyard groups. They developed different, contesting interpretations and practices. While the courtyard groups were diverse and many of them did not break any laws, the agents of control culture viewed them as deviant. However, it was not only the apparent or supposed “deviance” of some courtyard groups that put them in the spotlight but also their uncontrollability and estrangement from Soviet leisure venues and practices.