Northern Illinois University Press

Social Identity in Imperial Russia

Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter

"Wirtschafter tells a compelling story.... This study has far-reaching implications that are broadly revisionist.... It raises questions and challenges to some the accepted paradigms."Slavic Review

"A major contribution to our understanding.... Wirtschafter has interesting things to say about the evolution of Russian society in the last decades of tsarism."Slavonic and East European Review

"Based on impressive research in tsarist archives.... A welcome contribution to our discovery of Russia's social past."Journal of Modern History

This broad, panoramic view of Russian imperial society from the era of Peter the Great to the Revolution in 1917 sets forth a challenging interpretation of one of the world's most powerful and enduring monarchies. A sophisticated synthesis that combines massive reading of recent scholarship with archival research, it focuses on the interplay of Russia's key social groups with one another and with the state. The result is a highly original history of Great Russian society that illuminates the relationships between state building, large-scale social structures, and everyday life.

Beginning with an overview of imperial Russia's legal and institutional sturctures, Wirtschafter analyzes the "ruling" classes and service elites (the landowning nobility, the civil and military servicemen, the clergy) and then moves on to examine the middle groups (the raznochintsy, the commercial-industrial elites, the professionals, the intelligentsia) before turning to the peasants, townspeople, and factory workers.

Wirtschafter argues provocatively that those very social, political, and legal relationships that have long been viewed as sources of conflict and crisis in fact helped to promote integration and to foster the stability that ensured imperial Russia's survival. Social Identity in Imperial Russia will thus appeal to a wide range of readers interested in Russian history and culture, state building, and European social history.

(1997) 272 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-728-7
Paper 25.00

Table of Contents

1 The Institutional Setting
2 "Ruling" Classes and Service Elites
3 Middle Groups
4 Laboring People
Conclusion: Integration and Disintegration
Selected Bibliography

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-728-7
paper $25.00