Shock-Worker Movement

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shock-Worker Movement


one of the first and most widespread forms of socialist competition among Soviet working people. The aims of the shock-worker movement are an increase in labor productivity, a reduction in the prime cost of output, and the achievement of high speeds of work. In various stages of building socialism and communism, the movement has been enriched by the creative initiative of workers, kolkhoz members, scientists, engineers, and technicians in accordance with the objectives put forth by the Communist Party. Shock-worker movements have also developed in some other socialist countries.

The movement arose in the mid-1920’s when advanced workers at industrial enterprises formed shock groups and then shock brigades. Among the first brigades were those in the car repair shops at the Kazan Railroad’s Moscow Station (July 1926), the Leningrad Krasnyi Treugol’nik Plant (September 1926), the Lys’va Metallurgical Plant and the Zlatoust Machine Shop in the Urals (1927), and the young people’s artels in the Donbas (1927). In 1928 new shock brigades were formed on the initiative of the workers of the Leningrad Ravenstvo Spinning Factory. The movement was not widespread, however, until the publication on Jan. 20,1929, of V. I. Lenin’s article “How to Organize Competition” and until the Sixteenth All-Union Party Conference’s adoption on Apr. 29,1929, of the Appeal for the Organization of Socialist Competition to Fulfill the First Five-year Plan (1929–32). The appeal pointed out that “the shock brigades in enterprises and institutions carry on the best traditions of the communist subbotniki.”

The principal feature of the shock-worker movement is the over-fulfillment of production norms. At first, during the reconstruction of the national economy, overfulfillment was achieved primarily by intensifying labor and introducing very simple elements of scientific organization of labor. A resolution adopted by the First Congress of Shock Brigades in December 1929 stated: “The shock worker is a revolutionary striving to improve production, public life, and everyday life. He sets an example of a conscientious attitude toward productive work and fights for socialist labor discipline.”

The objectives of the shock-worker movement were defined by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) in a decree of Apr. 28, 1930: “The primary goal of the shock-worker movement, in addition to intensifying labor, is to improve the entire production process by every means: better organization of labor, streamlining of production and management, maximum development of invention, and improvement of industrial work skills by raising the workers’ technical qualifications and teaching the workers to care for machinery and tools.” Many patriotic initiatives arose from the shock-worker movement, including the introduction of counterplans, cost-accounting brigades, and the Izotovite movement [seeIZOTOV, NIKITA (NIKOFOR) ALEKSEEVICH].

The shock-worker movement developed with particular vigor in the early construction projects of socialist industrialization, for example, at the construction sites of Dneprostroi and in the construction of the Stalingrad and Kharkov tractor plants, the Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk metallurgical combines, and the Moscow and Gorky automotive plants. Under the leadership of the Communist Party and with the active participation of the Komsomol and trade unions, the shock-worker movement was a decisive force in helping to fulfill the first five-year plan in four years. The Stakhanovite movement developed during the second five-year plan (1933–37). During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, new forms of shock work spread: “200 percenters” produced at least 200 percent of their norms; “1,000 percenters” produced ten times their norms; and others operated several machines at the same time.

The movement for a communist attitude toward labor, which began in the late 1950’s, raised the shock-worker movement to a higher stage, where the struggle to maximize labor productivity, increase efficiency, and accelerate scientific and technological progress was combined with a rise in the moral obligations placed on those taking part in socialist competition and in the level of communist consciousness among the working people.


V. I. Lenin, KPSS o sotsialisticheskom sorevnovanii. Moscow, 1973.
Rezoliutsii i postanovleniia I Vsesoiuznogo s”ezda udarnykh brigad. Moscow, 1930.
Rogachevskaia, L. S. Iz istorii rabochego klassa SSSR v pervye gody industrializatsii: 1926–1927gg. Moscow, 1959.
Gershberg, S. R. Dvizhenie kollektivov i udarnikov kommunisticheskogo truda. Moscow, 1961.


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