Peasant Metropolis: Social Identities in Moscow, 1929-1941 / Edition 1

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During the 1930's, 23 million peasants left their villages and moved to Soviet cities, where they comprised almost half the urban population and more than half the nation's industrial workers. Drawing on previously inaccessible archival materials, David L. Hoffmann shows how this massive migration to the cities—an influx unprecedented in world history—had major consequences for the nature of the Soviet system and the character of Russian society even today.Hoffmann focuses on events in Moscow between the launching of the industrialization drive in 1929 and the outbreak of war in 1941. He reconstructs the attempts of Party leaders to reshape the social identity and behavior of the millions of newly urbanized workers, who appeared to offer a broad base of support for the socialist regime. The former peasants, however, had brought with them their own forms of cultural expression, social organization, work habits, and attitudes toward authority. Hoffmann demonstrates that Moscow's new inhabitants established social identities and understandings of the world very different from those prescribed by Soviet authorities. Their refusal to conform to the authorities' model of a loyal proletariat thwarted Party efforts to construct a social and political order consistent with Bolshevik ideology. The conservative and coercive policies that Party leaders adopted in response, he argues, contributed to the Soviet Union's emergence as an authoritarian welfare state.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In his engrossing study of the social, political, and economic effects of the peasant influx into Moscow, David Hoffmann demonstrates from a vast array of evidence how on the one hand the long-standing tradition of migration assisted industrialization by directing peasant labor to factories and construction work but on the other the shape of that workforce was in the hands of village networks rather than official recruitment programs. . . . With scholarship as penetrating as it is original, Hoffmann shows quite dramatically that . . . the Soviet industrial system . . . never achieved 'rationalized and routinized production.'"—John Erickson, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Hoffmann develops a clear argument from beginning to end, he presents strong supporting evidence, and he writes well. His subject is the massive migration of Soviet peasants from village to city during the 1930s . . . . His book is a major contribution to our understanding of the creation of Soviet society and of Soviet industry."—John Bushnell, The Journal of Economic History

"Just as the subjects of his study span the village and the city, Hoffmann has bridged the chasms between the literature on workers and on peasants. He also places his study in the context of literature on migration, class, and identity formation."—Journal of Social History

"It is the first study to place the Soviet experience of peasant in-migration during the 1930s into a European and even global context . . . ."—International Labor and Working-Class History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801486609
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

David L. Hoffmann is Professor of History at The Ohio State University. His books include, as editor, Russian Modernity: Politics, Knowledge, Practices and Stalinism: The Essential Readings.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Moscow and Its Hinterland 12
2 The Process of In-migration 32
3 The Formation of the Urban Workforce 73
4 The Workplace as Contested Space 107
5 The Urban Environment and Living Standards 127
6 Official Culture and Peasant Culture 158
7 Social Identity and Labor Politics 190
Conclusion 216
Appendix I. Workers in Moscow's Economic Sectors 221
Appendix II. The 1932 Trade Union Census 236
Bibliography 251
Index 275
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