Primary Sources

Perestroika and the changing Soviet workforce


One of Mikhail Gorbachev's most famous reform movements was perestroika (reconstruction), an attempt to rebuild the Soviet economy, which had been stagnating for more than a decade. A large part of perestroika emphasized developing individual responsibility among the Soviet workforce, in order to inspire greater productivity. With a guarantee of universal employment, there had been no incentives to work industriously in the Soviet Union. By comparison, this perestroika-era poster proudly proclaims its motives: "Independence—that's responsibility!", with an image of a single man taking responsibility for a job well done. Rather than suggesting the importance of service for the state or for the Communist Party, this slogan encouraged people to work for themselves in order to be good citizens.


"Independence - that's responsibility!" Soviet Union, courtesy of the Wende Museum, 1987.

How to Cite this Source

"Perestroika and the changing Soviet workforce," Making the History of 1989, Item #20, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).