The Urban Middle Classes

  • Howard White
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series


It is perhaps not surprising that Western interest in the social history of the Russian Revolution has not yet extended to the middle layers of society. The forging of the new order has naturally been of greater concern than the collapse of the old, and in this the middle layers may seem to have played no part. It may also appear that there is less need to employ detailed sociological analysis to explain their political behaviour: if some historians rebel against such determinism, most assume the correlation is obvious and need not detain them. It must also be said that such sociological analysis would in any case be no easy task. There was little effort at the time to collect data about the middle strata or debate their characteristics. Nor has much interest been displayed by Soviet historians, upon whose access to archives much Western literature relies. The one exception to this unconcern, the vexed question of the kulak (rich peasant), indicates that there are considerable problems of interpretation even where data are more plentiful: whether wealthy peasants constituted a separate social grouping as a ‘rural bourgeoisie’ is still hotly disputed. Yet, despite these biases against systematic investigation, there has been some attention paid to Russia’s ‘middle class’; indeed, several distinct approaches can be identified in the literature.


Middle Class Middle Layer Voluntary Organisation Class Struggle Officer Corps 
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  1. 16.
    M. F. Hamm, ‘Kharkov’s Progressive Duma, 1910–1914: A Study in Russian Municipal Reform’ Slavic Review, XL (1981), esp. pp. 18–20Google Scholar

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1992

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  • Howard White

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