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Title: Economy and society in rural Russia : the serf estate of Voshchazhnikovo, 1750-1860
Author: Dennison, T. K.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2004
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Abstract:
The central idea of this dissertation is to compare the dominant view of Russian rural society, as classically formulated by Aleksandr Chayanov in the early twentieth century, with local evidence from a particular serf community. Chayanov’s view has been widely accepted not only as portraying a general type (the archetypal peasant), but as a substantially accurate representation of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century peasant communities across the whole of European Russia, and much of Eastern Europe as well. In this picture, peasants are a paradigm of ‘traditional society’, with little sense of private property, an aversion to market transactions, social and geographical immobility, early and universal marriage, large multiple-family households, and strong communal ties.  These features are often regarded as part of an underlying ‘peasant culture’ on which external constraints, such as serfdoms, had little effect. In this dissertation, archival evidence for the Sheremetyev estate of Voshchazhnikovo in Yaroslavl’ province is used to test this widely-held view. Household listings, soul revisions, parish registers, serf petitions, landlords’ instructions, account books, communal meeting minutes, land transactions contracts, credit contracts, passports lists, inventories, and wills are used to construct a detailed picture of the workings of a serf society, and to examine the role of institutions such as serfdom and the peasant commune in a local context. The main finding of the dissertation, based on this evidence, is that the Chayanovian view is largely false, not only on the particular estate of Voshchazhnikovo, but at least regionally in the province of Yaroslavl’, and possibly beyond. The social and economic behaviour of peasants here was not dissimilar to what has been found in many parts of pre-industrial western Europe.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.598502  DOI: Not available
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