Personal Services

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Personal Services


part of the service sphere rendering nonproductive and productive services to the population. Personal services are characterized by socially organized methods and forms of satisfying people’s immediate material and spiritual needs outside of professional, public, and political activity.

Under modern conditions personal services, which in the recent past were provided only in handicraft shops, are becoming a branch of the national economy with a corresponding industrial, material, and technological base of industrial enterprises, production associations, and combines with highly productive machines and equipment. They are becoming more and more universal with specialization of separate types and forms of services.

Personal service enterprises produce articles of personal use upon individual order, restore the depreciated consumer value of household articles and articles of personal use, and render personal services. Personal services include the work of enterprises and organizations in charge of housing repair; custom furniture production and repair; laundry, dry cleaning, and dyeing of clothing; custom fitting and repair of shoes, clothing, furs, and knitted goods; the protection, maintenance, and repair of automobiles; the repair of technical household machines and equipment, television and radio sets, and musical instruments; keeping of articles in pawnshops; photography and barbershop services; the renting of cultural, everyday, sports, and household articles; apartment cleaning services; and various types of assigned services.

With social development, technological progress, and the rise in the material well-being of the population, the importance of socially organized forms of satisfying people’s material and spiritual needs is becoming more important.

The social content of personal services, the accessibility of the services to the population, the degree and proportion of the development of its individual branches, and the character and depth of the impact on the everyday life and work of the population depend not only on the level of development of the productive forces but even more so on the mode of public production.

Under socialism the expansion of the service sphere in general and of personal services in particular constitute an index of the growth and development of the national economy and of the rise in the well-being of the whole population. In the period of construction of communist society conditions are created for an accelerated development of the socially organized forms of personal services to the population. It is directed at gradually replacing household work with public forms of services and at eliminating on this basis the remnants of the virtual inequality of women in everyday life; at eliminating the social, economic, and cultural differences between the city and country; at equalizing the living conditions of the population in the central and outlying regions of the country; and at instilling collectivism into everyday life.

In conjunction with other branches of the service sphere, such as trade, catering, children’s institutions, and the housing and communal economy, personal service enterprises gradually replace individual elements of household work with large-scale public production and the organized service of many aspects of everyday life. Personal services are of enormous importance in the economic and cultural development of rural areas as well as in slowing down migration to the cities. The expansion of personal services contributes to the improvement of the use of working people’s leisure time, to a higher cultural level, and to a better organization of leisure.

In the USSR special ministries of personal services were set up in Union republics in 1965 in order to organize the management and improvement of personal services to the population. Independent krai and oblast personal service departments were formed. They work under the control of the soviets. In 1970 state, cooperative, and public personal service enterprises and organizations rendered more than 450 types of services in the amount of over 4 billion rubles (1.1 billion rubles in 1960). In 1968 the personal service system comprised 225,800 enterprises and receiving centers (135,000 in 1960), employing 1,650,000 people. Among the production (industrial) types of services to the population in 1967, custom-made tailoring and clothing repair accounted for 41 percent; complex household equipment repair, 14.5 percent; and custom fitting and repair of shoes, 14.3 percent. Among the nonproductive (nonindustrial) types of services, the first place is held by barber services (54 percent), followed by repair and housing construction (21.1 percent) and photography services (19.5 percent). A special network of educational institutions has been set up to train skilled workers, technicians, engineers, and economists of high qualification and different specialities for the personal service system. There are higher educational institutions for the training of engineers and economists for the personal service system in such cities as Moscow, Vladivostok, and Khmel’nitskii. There is a network of research, design, and technological institutes that work on improving services to the USSR population.

Under capitalism the development of personal services is governed by commercial aims and is uneven. In a number of foreign countries enterprises for car service and repair, dry cleaners, and enterprises for the rapid repair of household equipment and shoes grow faster than other types of services. Among the personal service enterprises of the USA, which numbered about 770,000 with almost 1.9 million hired laborers in the 1970’s, the first place is held by automobile repair and service enterprises. The total gross of all personal service enterprises amounted to almost $17.5 billion. Some types of services are available only to the privileged strata of the population.


Semenov, V. V. Sfera obsluzhivaniia i ee rabotniki. Moscow, 1966.
Uslugi i ikh sotsial’no-ekonomicheskaia rol’. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from Polish.)
Agabab’ian, E. M. Ekonomicheskii analiz sfery uslug. Moscow, 1968.
Zubchaninov, V. V. “Uslugi kak forma materiarnogo proizvodstva.” In the collection Sorevnovanie dvykh sist em: Novye iavleniia v ekonomike kapitalizma. Moscow, 1967. Pages 85-101.
Zagladina, S. M. “Rost chistykh izderzhek obrashcheniia v ekonomie SShA.” In the collection Sorevnovanie dvykh sistem: Novye iavleniia v ekonomike kapitalizma. Moscow, 1967. Pages 128-42.
Voprosy ekonomiki sluzhby byta. Moscow, 1966.


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