The paper discusses the development of the cooperative sector of the Soviet economy in the conditions of social and economic changes of the second half of the 1980s – early 1990s. The author analyzes the Soviet cooperative legislation and the results of consumer cooperatives’ activities which gives an opportunity to conclude why the cooperative plan of the modernization of the Soviet economy failed. By the beginning of Perestroika, the cooperative sector remained relatively stable. But with the growth of economic crisis, consumer cooperatives were influenced by all the negative factors. With the adoption of the law “On Cooperation in the USSR” in 1988, the Soviet government tried to create marketing cooperatives by giving priority to private economic activity. Under those conditions, economic sector of state cooperation entered a phase of a prolonged crisis. Thus, the state cooperative policy designed as a major factor of the modernization of the Soviet economy, failed to fulfil the task. The government planned to stimulate social activity under the previous system of parastatal organizations in the absence of horizontal links between producers and consumers, which was ineffective. On the other hand, the cooperative phraseology became a kind of ideological cover for the formation of market relations that did not contribute to their legitimization and to the reducing of the shadow economy. In those circumstances, consumer cooperatives experienced the in-consistency of economic policy.
Key words: consumer (state) cooperation, Perestroika, the Soviet economy.