Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. William Ritchie

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Tanner

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Gorbachev's perception of the Soviet Union's socio-economic crisis and his subsequent actions to correct the economy and reform the political system were linked with attempts to renegotiate the social contract between the state and the Soviet people. However, reformulation of the social contract was incompatible with the conditions of a second arrangement between the leadership and the nomenklatura--the Soviet ruling class. The failure of Gorbachev's reforms and the decline of Soviet legitimacy were linked to the irreconcilability of the nomenklatura's "political contract" and the social contract.

The construct of the social contract was utilized to represent the Soviet state-society relationship and provide a framework for the analysis of social conflict during the Gorbachev years. The social contract offered an effective model to depict the expectations and obligations of the state and society, and evaluate state legitimacy based on contract performance.