Business in communist Russia: report on interview with elderly Lady.

Essay by innovationHigh School, 12th grade August 2006

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Ljudmila N. is now 74 years old, she is an ex-engineer who was born in Russia, Moscow, and worked there all her life. From this interview some very remarkable details could be picked up about her two jobs: as an aerospace engineer in the constructing department and another one at the ministry. Ljudmila talks about the incredible effects of communism upon her job and other curious experiences at the workplace, all emphasizing the vast disparity between businesses in the 1950's and now.

To begin the almost hour-long conversation I decided to appeal to the question of discrimination when applying for jobs and at the workplace. As my grandmother had pointed out earlier, her first job was one in the engineering sector where she and her colleagues designed models for rockets and later on produced the rocket itself. "At the time, the word discrimination had not entered my mind. In fact it's the hindsight from now which helps me to realize the discriminative boundaries which were quietly built up", explains my grandmother looking sadly into my eyes.

She highlights that everything was nationalized, owned by the state, privatization was unknown and thus the government ideas and beliefs were clearly reflected in each company. Discrimination by nationality was common. When offered a job, you had to accept rules and regulations, such as the 'Article 5: No Jews allowed taking up the post'. Jews were widely discriminated and my grandmother cannot remember ever having Jews at either the engineering company or the ministry. Education level was also very important: only higher level and quality education could get you a prestige position or in fact any good job at all. "However, the most absurd and the harshest of all was the idea of 'party belonging'", recalls Ljudmila with certain bitterness. This is where the...