“Periphery”, state, and revolution, or Russia’s morphology of “backwardness” (Part 2)


With this paper, we continue a series of publications on the theoretical aspects of Teodor Shanin’s conception of Russia as a ‘developing society’ first published in 1986 in the book Russia as a ‘Developing Society’. The Roots of Otherness: Russia’s Turn of Century. Vol. 1. In this part, the author considers the characterization of Russia as a “developing society” at the turn of the XX century, which cannot be understood outside the context of capitalism both internationally and intra-nationally. At the same time the unique/specific features that most profoundly characterized the Russian social scene at the turn of the century and made its mark as its past within its present were represented particularly by the state, ethnos and peasantry. The power of the Russian state apparatus, its share of resources, its control over the population and its legal claims exceeded those elsewhere where capitalism was on the march. Massive processes of consolidation and ‘extended reproduction’ of cultural patterns, language usage, fundamental symbols of identification and self-identification, as well as of related political loyalties, wielded together massive populations of different origins. Finally, during two centuries only, the Russian peasants moved all the way from the payment of tribute to unheard-of levels of exploitation and cattle-like enslavement of more than nine-tenths of the Russians; however, within another century came the emancipation from serfdom which made peasantry not only ‘free’ but landowning. The Russian dependent development of that time found its expression not only at the general level of the economic flows malfunctions and transformations but also at the distinct dimension of class generation and conflict. Parallel to the general crisis of the Russian political economy and the growing and increasingly explicit conflict between major social groups was an ideological/moral crisis expressed in perceptions, concepts and values (thus, the Russian intelligentsia confronted directly the state apparatus). The author concludes with the types of dissent initiated by men of knowledge, of ideas and of moral values, which was represented in different populist theorists including revolutionary populism and subjective sociology.

About the authors

T Shanin

University of Manchester

Email: shanin@universitas.ru
Oxford Rd., Manchester, M13 9PL, UK


  1. Aksakov K. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Complete Works]. Moscow; 1861-1880 (In Russ.).
  2. Alavi H. State in Post Colonial Society. New Left Review, 1972;74.
  3. Baldamus W. The Role of Discovery in Social Sciences. Shanin T. The Rules of the Game: Cross Disciplinary Essays on Models in Scholarly Thought. L.; 1972.
  4. Belinskii V. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Complete Works]. Saint Petersburg; 1900-1917 (In Russ.).
  5. Bendix R., Lipset S.M. Class Status and Power. L.; 1968.
  6. Berlin I. Russian Thinkers. Harmondsworth; 1978.
  7. Berlin I. The Listener. 2 May 1968.
  8. Billington J.H. Fire in the Minds of Man. L.; 1980.
  9. Bol’shakov A., Rozhkov N. Istoriya khozyaistva Rossii [History of the Economy of Russia]. Moscow; 1926:III (In Russ.).
  10. Bol’shaya sovetskaya entsiklopedia [Great Soviet Encyclopedia]. Moscow; 1941. Vol. 48.
  11. Bolkhovskii M. Sud’ba Revolyutsionno-sotsialisticheskoi inteligentsii Rossii [The Fate of the Revolutionary-Socialist Intelligentsia of Russia]. Materiyaly samizdata, 1980:13/80 (In Russ.).
  12. Bottomore T.B. Elites and Society. L.; 1964.
  13. Brentwaite R.B. Scientific Explanation. Cambridge; 1953.
  14. Brentwaite R.B. Scientific Explanation. Cambridge; 1953.
  15. Bulgakov M. Belaya gvardiya, Povesti [White Guard, Novels]. Moscow; 1978 (In Russ.).
  16. Corrigan P. Feudal Relics or Capitalist Monuments. Sociology, 1977:II.
  17. Dmytryshyn B. Imperial Russia: A Source Book 1700-1917. Hinsdale; 1974.
  18. Furtado C. Development and Underdevelopment. Berkeley, 1967.
  19. Gramsci A. Selection from Prison Notebooks. L.; 1973.
  20. Henberg B. Pervyi internatsional i revolyutsionnaya rossiya [Frist International, and Revolutionary Russia]. Moscow; 1962 (In Russ.).
  21. Hertzen A. Byloe i dumy, Sochineniya [The Past and the Thoughts, Works]. Moscow; 1956. Vol. 5 (In Russ.).
  22. Kautsky J. Political Change in Underdeveloped Countries. N.Y.; 1967.
  23. Khomyakov A. Izbrannye sochineniya [Selected Works]. N.Y.; 1955.
  24. Khoros V. Ideinye techeniya narodnicheskogo tipa [Ideological Currents of the Populist Type]. Moscow; 1980 (In Russ.).
  25. Klyuchevskii V. A History of Russia. N.Y.; 1960. Vol. 5.
  26. Leikina Svirskaya V. Petrashevtsy. Moscow; 1966 (In Russ.).
  27. Leikina-Svirskaya V. Inteligentsiya v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XIX veka [Intelligentsia of Russian in the Second Half of the XIX Century]. Moscow; 1971 (In Russ.).
  28. Mikhailovskii N. Otechestvennye zapiski, 1881:12 (In Russ.).
  29. Mills C.W. The Power Elite. N.Y.; 1956.
  30. Mosca G. The Ruling Class. N.Y.; 1939.
  31. Narodnaya Volya, 1880:3 (In Russ.).
  32. Ossowski S. Class Structure in Social Consciousness. L.; 1963.
  33. Pankratova A. Pervaya russkaya revolyutsiya [First Russian Revolution]. Moscow; 1951 (In Russ.).
  34. Pareto V. The Mind and Society. L.; 1935.
  35. Raeff M. The Well Ordered Police State. The American Historical Review, 1975:80(5).
  36. Revolyutsionnoe dvizhenie v Rossii [Revolutionary Movement in Russia]. Saint Petersburg, 1907 (In Russ.).
  37. Shanin T. Class, state and revolution: Substitutes and realities. H. Alavi, T. Shanin. Introduction to the Sociology of the ‘Developing Societies’. L.; 1982.
  38. Shanin T. Late Marx and the Russian Road. L.; 1983.
  39. Shanin T. The Rules of the Game: Cross Disciplinary Essays on Models in Scholarly Thought. L.; 1972.
  40. Spiridovich A. Revolyutsionnoe dvizhenie v Rossii [Revolutionary Movement in Russia]. Petrograd; 1916. Vol. II (In Russ.).
  41. Sweezy P. The Proletariat of Today’s World. Tricontinental, 1968:9.
  42. Venturi F. Roots of Revolution. L.; 1960.
  43. von Laue T. Imperial Russia at the Turn of Century. R. Bendix. State and Society. Berkeley, 1973.
  44. von Laue T.H. Sergei Witte and the Industrialization of Russia. L.; 1963.
  45. Walicki A. The Controversy Over Capitalism. Oxford; 1969.
  46. Wallerstein I. The Modern World System. N.Y.; 1974.
  47. Witte S. Vospominaniya [Memoirs]. Moscow; 1960. Vol. 2.
  48. Wolf E. Peasant Wars in the Twentieth Century. N.Y.; 1969.
  49. Zaionchkovskii P. ‘Verkhovnaya rasporyaditel’naya kommisiya’ [Supreme administrative commission]. Voprosy istorii sel’skogo khozyaistva, krest’yanstva I revolyutsii. Moscow; 1961 (In Russ.).

Copyright (c) 2017 Shanin T.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies