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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2021 year, number

Poor and middle-class peasants in collective farm society of West Siberian region in the first half of 1930s

V.B. Laperdin
Institute of History SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation
Keywords: peasantry, state agrarian policy, social mobility, Siberia, collective farm - state farm system


The article objective is to investigate socio-economic differentiation of collective farm society in West Siberia in the 1930s. The author concludes on the mobility in the collective farm society from the point of starting positions (individual economic and social status in the peasant society before collectivization). Despite the high social mobility, it was difficult for poorest peasants to move up the ladder of collective farm hierarchy because of negative attitude of middle-class peasants. Meanwhile, many representatives of the poor strata of peasantry managed to take a worthy place in the collective farm society. The existence of two opposite tendencies is explained by heterogeneity of the poorest peasantry, and attitude of other groups to poor peasants formed before collectivization. Peasants had a positive attitude towards the forced poors, who became such because of redistribution of land or other force majeure circumstances, but the voluntary poverty was condemned in peasant society. Those poorest peasants, who adhered to the Bolshevik ideology, had bad reputations, but were supported by the authorities. Relations in collective farms between social groups developed, among other things, on the basis of practices that existed before collectivization, «transferred from the traditional peasant community to new conditions of the collective farm society. Those poor peasants, who had the least prestige among their fellow villagers, found themselves at the bottom of the social hierarchy. People belonging to the same status, but with a higher position, were not bullied by the middle-class peasants and were able to take full advantage of the social elevators. Groups of peasants supporting the state were in the most advantageous position. Collective farm leaders were often recruited from those groups.