Literally: Restructuring. Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Perestroika is often argued to be a cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, and the end of the Cold War.
It refers to major changes initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev to the structure and function of both political and economic controls in the Soviet Union. Perestroika allowed more independent actions from the various ministries and introduced some market-like reforms. The intention of perestroika, however, was not to dismantle communism but rather to make communism work more efficiently to better meet the needs of Soviet consumers.
The process of implementing perestroika arguably exacerbated already existing political, social and economic tensions within the Soviet Union and no doubt helped to further nationalism among the constituent republics. Perestroika and resistance to it are often cited as major catalysts leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union.