Punk in Russia: from the Declassed Elements to the Class Struggle

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter discusses the evolution of punk in Russia since its inception at the end of the 1970s. It pays particular attention to the changing perception of class belonging and the political engagement of the punk scene in Russia. Whereas in the West punk was a political movement closely associated with its working-class background, in the Soviet Union it emerged as a protest of middle-class intellectuals fighting for the right to be different and to stand out from the uniformed workers’ and peasants’ collective. This defined the particular stand of early Russian punk toward the genre’s social engagement and political appeal. Working-classness and political commitment—initial conditions of punk identity in the West—became something early Russian punk was positioned against. The dramatic transformation of Russian society over the following decades inevitably affected the cultural ideology of Russian punk, and from the 1990s onward it had to find its place and defend its significant difference amid the realities of “wild” neoliberal capitalism. The chapter shows how in Russia punk evolved from being a highly individualistic and apolitical practice to one of the most radical and politically committed scenes, closely affiliated with other struggles on the Left.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Punk Rock
EditorsGeorge McKay, Gina Arnold
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Publication statusAcceptance date - 2021


  • Punk
  • Russia
  • class
  • working class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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