Literacies of (post)socialist childhood: alternative readings of socialist upbringings and neoliberal futures

Michael A. Mead, Iveta Silova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In the former Soviet Union, the upbringing of children in the spirit of Marxist-Leninist values was central to the project of societal transformation. More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is important to understand how the education of young children in this region has changed in response to a world rapidly globalising and increasingly driven by market economic policies. Just how much have post-socialist states, as others across the world, reoriented their educational projects to ensure the development of individuals maximally adapted for the information economy of late capitalism? This study probes this question through the critical discourse analysis of a genre of early literacy textbooks-bukvari-used widely throughout the Soviet and post-Soviet education system. Through comparison of literacy texts published in the late Soviet era with those used over the past two decades in independent Latvia and Ukraine, we explore how discourses representing children and their behaviors-what we call 'literacies of childhood'-have evolved during post-socialist transformations. In contrast to the predominant assumption that values common to socialism should have given way to cosmopolitan, neoliberal principles, we find surprising flows and modifications between visions of the 'Soviet' and 'post-Soviet' child. Most significantly perhaps, our analysis reveals that even the most recent textbooks reject assertions of a global and future-oriented citizen, instead idealising visions of a distinctly national Latvian or Ukrainian citizenry, growing up in a trapped-in-time, ethnically and linguistically homogenous homeland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-222
Number of pages29
JournalGlobalisation, Societies and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Latvia
  • Ukraine
  • childhood
  • neoliberalism
  • post-socialism
  • textbooks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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