The article analyzes the establishment of the concept of the “socialist city” in intellectual debates of the 1920s and 1930s by considering its normative component, values and regulative power with special attention paid to symbolic transformation of the image of “socialist city” in modern rhetoric context. The author theoretically substantiates that there are three main types of discourses reproducing the image of “socialist city” today. The logic of their use, the main meanings and symbolic contours are analyzed. It is argued that the spread of the rhetoric of “heritage” was connected with the desire to keep symbolic distance from the Soviet past, as well as to move the discussion on the Soviet urban areas beyond a socio-political context. Meanwhile, if the rhetoric of “heritage” just outlined symbolic contours of “socialist cities” fixing them in public consciousness, the “utopian” discourse managed to propose a completely new framework for their interpretation, filling those spaces with new meanings and, thus, shaping a new language of their description. Relying on the analysis of the interwar debates and modern rhetoric, the author concludes that discursive component appeared to be a key element that determined the development of socialist cities and not only played the role of symbolic accompaniment for the city building reforms but also served as an important ideological and social regulator.
Key words: socialist city, public rhetoric, interwar period, languages of description, the Soviet urban areas, symbolic transformation, urban planning.