The article attempts to explicate the meaning of “Sovietology.” It traces the origins of the term and discusses the uses to which it has been put in the scholarly literature. Two different meanings have been attached to the term. One reflects the understanding of Sovietology as the study of Soviet politics; the other views it as a “basket” of several, variously specified, disciplines in the social sciences and—less often—the humanities, distinguished by a common area orientation. The resultant ambiguity has blurred Sovietology's disciplinary identity. Now that the record of Western scholarship on the Soviet Union has become the subject of critical scrutiny and debate, it is especially important that the meaning of “Sovietology” be clearly stipulated.

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