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Title:Everyday Life in Revolutionary Russia: Working-Class Drinking and Taverns in St. Petersburg, 1900--1929
Author(s):Phillips, Laura Lynne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koenker, Diane P.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, European
History, Modern
Abstract:Even before the Bolshevik state came tumbling down in 1991, historians had begun to realize that the dynamics of the Russian revolution might be better understood if they devoted more attention to exploring the importance of 1917. This study contributes to the general reassessment of 1917 by focusing on ways in which the workers' revolution affected the everyday life of the individuals for whom it was intended. Drink provides a revealing view into the everyday life of Russia's early-twentieth century workers; after all, customs surrounding drink permeated virtually every facet of working-class life.
The investigation of drink suggests that the revolution brought greater change to labor than to other areas of workers' lives. Two customs integral to the pre-revolutionary shop floor virtually disappeared by the late 1920s, an indication that pre-industrial relationships in the factory were breaking down. At the same time, drinking remained a critical element in working-class conceptions of manliness, sociability, and celebration, and the tavern remained a forum for the assertion of masculine values. Further, drink remained a visible manifestation of worker self-identity: rank-and-file workers denied "non-drinkers," i.e., women, children, and worker intellectuals, full status as workers. Working-class women themselves operated in normal times within a framework that assumed the persistence of a male-dominated working community: scattered opportunities for female celebration did not pose a real threat to masculine control of working-class life. Similarly, though individual women endeavored to protect their own families' economic health from any potentially deleterious effects of male alcohol consumption, only in extraordinary times did women engage in collective anti-alcohol efforts.
Two distinct cultural milieus were distinguishable within the Russian working class: the "drunken" world of the rank-and-file, where alcohol was an essential element of male sociability; and the "sober" world of the worker intellectual, which emphasized the "sensible" use of resources. In practice, the boundary between these two worlds was a permeable one, and the workers' ability to parry back and forth was critical to the success of revolution. However, the existence of two incompatible cultural strands indigenous to the working class complicated the task of building a workers' state, for inhabitants of both worlds could legitimately claim that their cultural proclivities should take precedence. ftn*Abstract originally published in DAI vol, 54, no. 12. Republished here with corrected text.
Issue Date:1993
Description:271 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9411751
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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