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Post-Soviet SocialNeoliberalism, Social Modernity, Biopolitics$
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Stephen J. Collier

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148304

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148304.001.0001

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The Intransigence of Things

The Intransigence of Things

(p.202) Chapter Eight The Intransigence of Things
Post-Soviet Social

Stephen J. Collier

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at the reform of communal services, particularly centralized heating systems. The heating system was a key element of the Soviet variant of “infrastructural” social modernity. Soviet planners recognized heat as an “elementary need”; through pipes, boilers, transfers, and radiators, the norms of social modernity were hard-wired into the very material structure and spatial layout of Soviet cities. As such, during the Soviet period, the provision of heat to the Russian population had been established as a basic responsibility of the state. It is no surprise that as the character of that responsibility was called into question, heat became the topic of contentious debate and urgent political concern. By the early 2000s, it was widely recognized that Russia faced an “infrastructure crisis” that was simultaneously financial, technical, political, and social.

Keywords:   communal services reform, centralized heating systems, infrastructural social modernity, infrastructure crisis, material structure, spatial layout, Soviet cities

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