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The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series

  • Date Published: April 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521194488

£ 72.00

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • A vivid and colourful picture of how Russian society really looked before the abolition of serfdom
    • Comprehensively shatters the traditional peasant myth which has formed the foundation of most Russian social and economic history over the past century
    • A major contribution to our understanding of institutions and economic growth
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2011 Agricultural History Society Henry A. Wallace Award

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521194488
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • 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.

  • Author

    Tracy Dennison, California Institute of Technology
    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.


    • Winner of the 2011 Agricultural History Society Henry A. Wallace Award
    • Winner of the 2012 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize

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