Northern Illinois University Press

The Moscow Business Elite

A Social and Cultural Portrait of Two Generations, 1840-1905

Jo Ann  Ruckman

Individual members of the families that made up Moscow's business elite in the last years of the Russian Empire have long been celebrated for their contributions to Russian culture. Additionally, the same group of families gave rise to a number of oustanding politicians who played important roles during the final years of the imperial regime. P. M. Tretiakov, creator of the world-famous Tretiakov Gallery of Russian Art, and Constantin Stanislavsky, whose influence as an actor and director helped to transform the European stage, are known to all familiar with the history of European culture. A. I. Guchkov and A. I. Konovalov, both members of the Provisional Government of 1917, will forever figure prominently in the history of Russian politics. But historians have as yet given little attention to the social and cultural milieu that produced these and other outstanding figures in Russian culture and politics who originated in Moscow's business elite.

This book examines the process of social and cultural change that produced the remarkable business "dynasties" whose members not only dominated the Moscow business community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but also left a strong imprint on the cultural and political life of both Moscow and Russia as a whoe. During a period of less than a century, these families built up business enterprises that by the end of the nineteenth century were in many cases among the largest industrial and commercial undertakings in the Russian Empire. Coming originally from the peasantry or the lower urban social strata, they quickly accumulated the considerable fortunes that allowed them to claim a place for themselves in the upper ranks of Moscow society. Because of strong prejudices deeply embedded in Russian society, businessmen were not readily accepted into circles of wealthy and cultured people. Their acceptance by members of the Russian nobility and intelligentsia was conditional upon their demonstrating a high level of cultural development—a level that some business families were able to attain within the span of two generations.

The growing welath and economic power of the Moscow business elite also encouraged its members to seek a larger role in the politics of the autocratic Russian state. However, though they had gained social recognition for their cultural contributions, representatives of the business elite were less successful in their efforts to become an important political force during the period ending in 1905.

(1984) 288 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-096-7
cloth $35.50

Jo Ann Ruckman is author of several articles relating to Russian and to women's history. Currently, she is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Idaho State University.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Moscow Business Elite and its Position in the Social Structure of Russia and Moscow
Chapter 2: The Economic Foundations of the Moscow Dynasties
Chapter 3: The Older Generation of the 1890s: Cultural Change
Chapter 4: The Older Generation of the 1890s: Participation in Public Affairs
Chapter 5: The Younger Generation of the 1890s
Chapter 6: The Younger Generation of the 1890s: Politics and the Labor Question

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-096-7
cloth $35.50