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Intimidation and the Symbolic Uses of Terror in the USSR

Donna Bahry and Brian D. Silver
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 81, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 1065-1098
DOI: 10.2307/1962579
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1962579
Page Count: 34
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Intimidation and the Symbolic Uses of Terror in the USSR
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Abstract

Theories of regime-society relations in Communist states stress the central role of coercion in maintaining political control. Based on a survey of Soviet emigrants, we examine whether Soviet citizens are deterred from nonconformity by the punitive actions of the KGB (individual deterrence), a perception of the KGB's coercive potential (general deterrence), or mistrust of other people. We find that few respondents were directly coerced by the KGB (and those who were had engaged in the most serious kinds of nonconformity); that those who had punitive contacts with the KGB in the past were not deterred from subsequent nonconformity; that the KGB's competent image was a general deterrent; and that trust in other people facilitated both nonconformist and compliant political activism. Those who came of political age under Khrushchev and Brezhnev were more likely to be involved in both kinds of activism than those who came of age under Stalin.

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