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The Things of LifeMateriality in Late Soviet Russia$
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Alexey Golubev

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752889

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752889.001.0001

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Ordinary and Paranormal

Ordinary and Paranormal

The Soviet Television Set

(p.142) Chapter 6 Ordinary and Paranormal
The Things of Life

Alexey Golubev

Cornell University Press

This chapter investigates how the television set as a material object changed the Soviet domestic space and Soviet selfhood. The chapter brings together most of the topics discussed in the book. It looks at the social conflict between the educated class and marginalized groups in Soviet society, which found its manifestation in public debates over the presumably healing or harmful effects of the television set. The chapter focuses on the material form in addition to the content of television to argue that its inclusion in the Soviet home instigated new forms of identity performances that cannot be reduced to the content of television programs but can rather be traced to the physical nature of television as a medium of mass communication. Focusing on the phenomenon of paranormal seances broadcast on Soviet television in 1989, the chapter explores the various ways in which Soviet television audiences discovered that the television set had power over their bodies and selves, as well as looks at different forms of social reaction that this discovery caused in late Soviet culture.

Keywords:   television set, Soviet domestic space, Soviet selfhood, social conflict, Soviet culture, mass communication, public debates, paranormal seances, Soviet television audiences, mass communication

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