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The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The Soviet Union fostered the development of the physical sciences, and although hampered by the slow development of the computer industry and outdated laboratory equipment, many of its scientists and scientific institutions did important work. Fields with potential military application, such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics, along with other disciplines, were supported. Much of the money for the sciences has vanished. Where it exists, private or foundation funding can provide only minimal resources. Dozens of prestigious institutes are nearly closed, lacking funds even for essentials such as electricity and water.

The social sciences were organized around Marxist-Leninist theory and thus were forced to frame research in terms of dialectical materialism. Until the mid-1980s, social problems were not freely discussed and research that might portray living conditions or social attitudes in a negative light was restricted. Since the era of Gorbachev's reforms, the social sciences have flourished even though financing for pure research has been limited. Applied sociology has benefited, as polling has become a mainstay of business.

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—N ANCY R IES

 

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