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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2014 year, number 4

SOCIAL MOBILITY OF SIBERIAN PEASANTS: DISCOURSE OF THE 1920S

V.A. Ilyinikh
Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IH SB RAS), Russia, 630090, Novosibirsk, Akad. Nikolaev str., 8
Keywords: social mobility, peasantry, agricultural censuses, NEP, discussions on the class stratification in the village, leveling-out, Siberia

Abstract

The paper analyzes the discussion on the social mobility of peasants that took place in Siberia in the 1920s. This issue was of high political relevance. Social transformations in the rural areas could be characterized only in connection with evaluation of the ruling partys agrarian policy. In Siberia the discourse on this problem evolved in the context of the nationwide polemics. Judging from the available source base the majority of analysts defined the peasantry social structure on the basis of seeding groups, and since 1927 - on the basis of groups of peasant households formed according to the value of durable means of production. Social interpretation of these groups depended on political, scientific and theoretical principles of interpreters. Having analyzed the period of the late 1910s - early 1920s the majority of experts stated that the Siberian peasant household had been evened out at a lower wealth level. The discourse of the 1920s evolved in the context of a heightened political struggle. Adherents of the left opposition argued that NEP led to restoration of capitalist differentiation which acheieved in Siberia the American rate of growth. The right-wing Communists in fact denied any stratification in the NEP village. They were supported by the neo-populists who defined the vast majority of peasant homesteads as poor. The Partys majority leaders proposed the concept of leveling-out the village according to which the key figure in the NEP village was a middle peasant. Supporters of this idea believed that it was proved by the cluster censuses data obtained in 1927 and 1928 and processed by V.S.Nemchinovs methods. These methods were more adequate; however conclusions drawn upon such data processing were also subjective. In the late 1920s any discussions on the peasant social mobility were stopped. The official opininon was considered to be the only true point of view.