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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

16 - Workers and industrialization

from Part II - Russia and the Soviet Union: Themes and Trends


For much of the twentieth century, labour historians conventionally employed the concept of the working class as an objective description of a distinct social group with measurable characteristics and factory workers as the core element within that class. Peasant labour migration assumed huge proportions in the late nineteenth century. Peasants travelled to and found work in the burgeoning metallurgical and coal-mining industries of the south. Joseph Stalin's great turn towards industrialisation, accompanied by the collectivisation of agriculture, provoked massive out-migration from the villages. Paternalism frequently crops up in both contemporary descriptions and historians' accounts of factory relations in pre-revolutionary Russia. Enterprise paternalism had little to do with the social backgrounds or 'party-mindedness' of managers. Having internalised Soviet propaganda's emphasis on the dignifying, self-realising dimensions of material labour, industrial workers tended to have greater respect for production than auxiliary workers regardless of skill level.
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