Cultural-Educational Work

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cultural-Educational Work


in the USSR, a system of measures aimed at promoting the communist upbringing and political education of the working people, raising their cultural level, developing creative ability, and organizing leisure activity. Cultural-educational work is an integral part of the ideological activity of the Communist Party, the Soviet state, the trade unions, and the Komsomol.

The term “cultural-educational work” refers to the purposeful activity of clubs, public libraries, and recreation parks. Museums, motion-picture theaters, drama theaters, and other cultural institutions, as well as radio and television, also have an important place in cultural-educational work. In a broad sense, cultural-educational work is any activity, organized outside schools, contributing to man’s cultural development.

Cultural-educational work developed as a separate field of ideological activity after the victory of the October Revolution of 1917 and was directly associated with the cultural revolution in the USSR. The main tasks and major principles of cultural-educational work were defined by V. I. Lenin and elaborated in resolutions of the congresses of the Communist Party and in resolutions of the Central Committee of the CPSU on ideological questions. In Lenin’s view cultural-educational work was a part of both the party’s activity and of the cultural-educational function of the Soviet state. The Chief Political Education Committee (Glavpolitprosvet), established under the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR in November 1920, was based on this important idea and combined the functions of party and state leadership in this field. N. K. Krupskaia made a great contribution to the theory and practice of cultural-educational work. From the first days of Soviet rule she headed the Extrascholastic Department of the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR, becoming chairman of Glavpolitprosvet in 1920.

Later, as cultural-educational work was expanded and refined and as a diversified network of cultural-educational institutions was created, the administration of cultural-educational work changed accordingly. Boards supervising izby-chital’ni (village reading rooms), houses of culture, libraries, and other institutions were established in the people’s commissariats (later minis-tries) of education of the Union republics. In 1945 the administration of cultural-educational work was transferred to special committees for cultural-educational institutions under the councils of ministers of the Union republics. In 1953 these functions were transferred to the Ministry of Culture of the USSR and the ministries of culture of the Union republics.

Cultural-educational work in the USSR includes the development of the communist world view, labor education, moral upbringing, atheist education, the popularization of scientifictechnical and economic knowledge, aesthetic upbringing, physical training, and the organization of amateur artistic activity, recreation, and entertainment. The forms of cultural-educational work are constantly being developed and refined. Along with such traditional activities as talks, lectures, reports, plays, and concerts, clubs are organizing on a larger scale ustnye zhurnaly, or “talking magazines” (a series of stage, radio, or television appearances by specialists), readers’ conferences, and parties and meetings where specific subjects are discussed. People’s universities, lectures with film showings, and amateur associations in various fields are also being established. Amateur artistic activity occupies an important place in cultural-educational work. Its highest form, the people’s theaters, has been developing rapidly since the 1960s’. In 1971 the USSR had 133,000 clubs, 128,600 public libraries (with a total of 1,366,100,000 holdings of books and magazines), 553 professional theaters (attended by more than 114 million), 1,173 museums (visited by more than 110 million), and 157,100 film projectors (attendance of film showings, 4,656,000,000). In 1970 clubs organized 5,273,000 lectures and reports (attended by more than 477 million) and sponsored 2,334,000 plays and concerts given by amateur artists (attendance 417.4 million). In the same year there were 440,000 groups with 6,951,000 members and about 16,000 people’s universities with an enrollment of 3,218,000.

The all-Union society Knowledge and its local affiliates organize public lectures and take an active part in the work of the people’s universities. In 1970 the society sponsored 18,237,000 lectures attended by 951 million persons. A great contribution to cultural-educational work is also made by the Komsomol and other voluntary public organizations, by the propaganda departments of unions of writers, composers, artists, and cinematographers, by republic choral societies, and by societies for the protection of historical and cultural monuments.

Personnel for cultural-educational work are trained at institutes of culture, higher trade union schools, cultural-educational schools, and library technicums. In the 1960’s several pedagogical, medical, agricultural, and other higher educational institutions established departments of social vocations, which train activists in cultural-educational work in addition to providing training in the basic specialty. The Scientific Research Institute of Culture of the Ministry of Culture of the RSFSR was founded in Moscow in 1969 to develop the theory and methods of cultural-educational work. Centers for methodology in cultural-educational work, houses of people’s art, and houses of amateur artistic activity operate in all Union and autonomous republics, krais, and oblasts.

Questions of cultural-educational work are treated in the newspaper Sovetskaia kul’tura, the specialized magazines Kul’turno-prosl’etitel’naia rabota, Klub i khudozhestvennaia samodeiatel’nost’ and Sotsialystychna kul’tura (Ukrainian), and magazines devoted to cultural and educational work in Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Estonian.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, pp. 463–64; vol. 38, pp. 329–32; vol. 40, pp. 160–65; vol. 41, pp. 138–50, 398, 408; vol. 44, pp. 155–75.
Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971. Pages 278–79.
Krupskaia, N. K. Pedagogicheskie sochineniia, vols. 7–9. Moscow, 1959–60.
Frid, L. S. Ocherki po istorii razvitiia politiko-prosvetitel’noi raboty v RSFSR (1917–1929 gg). Leningrad, 1941.
Kul’turno-prosvetitel’naia rabota. [Moscow] 1969.
Klubovedenie. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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