The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom

The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom

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Russian rural history has long been based on a 'Peasant Myth', originating with nineteenth-century Romantics and still accepted by many historians today. In this book, Tracy Dennison shows how Russian society looked from below, and finds nothing like the collective, redistributive and market-averse behaviour often attributed to Russian peasants. On the contrary, the Russian rural population was as integrated into regional and even national markets as many of its west European counterparts. Serfdom was a loose garment that enabled different landlords to shape economic institutions, especially property rights, in widely diverse ways. Highly coercive and backward regimes on some landlords' estates existed side-by-side with surprisingly liberal approximations to a rule of law. This book paints a vivid and colourful picture of the everyday reality of rural Russia before the 1861 abolition of serfdom.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 274 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 b/w illus. 1 map
  • 9781139065313

Table of contents

1. Why is Russia different? Culture, geography, institutions; 2. Voshchazhnikovo: a microcosm of nineteenth-century Russia; 3. Household structure and family economy; 4. The rural commune; 5. Land and property markets; 6. Labour markets; 7. Credit and savings; 8. Retail markets and consumption; 9. The institutional framework of Russian serfdom.
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Review quote

"An excellent monograph on a topic of major significance. Highly recommended." -Choice "...well-documented study..." -Edgar Melton, Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Tracy Dennison's richly documented study of Voshchazhnikovo, a large Sheremetev estate in Iaroslav province, joins a growing list of micro-investigations of Russian serfdom in the decades leading up to the emancipation of 1861." -Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter, Slavic Review "The centrepiece of this book - the detailed study of the Voshchazhnikovo estate - is of great value as a piece of careful and perceptive history, but the wider argument that Dennison makes should be treated with caution." -Peter Waldron, European History Quarterly "...truly paradigmatic new work on the economic history of Tsarist Russia." -Steven Nafziger, EH.Net
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About Tracy Dennison

Tracy Dennison is Associate Professor of Social Science History at the California Institute of Technology. Her work has received numerous prizes, including the Pollard Prize awarded by the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London, and the Economic History Association's Alexander Gerschenkron Prize.
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