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Study questions on Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment:  Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998)  

Week 1

Chapter 1, The Imperial Legacy, pages 1-19

Based upon Suny’s discussion—

Be prepared to outline the geographic factors shaping Russian history.

Describe the population makeup (demographic characteristics) of the Russian Empire in 1900.

Describe the relative size of the major social estates (sosloviia) in 1897.

What generalizations characterize Russian peasant agriculture circa 1900?

Was life for peasants improving or becoming worse?

How was village life organized, and what generalizations characterize peasant culture?

What generalizations characterize the nature of Russian autocracy circa 1900? What was the role of the autocrat?

What generalizations characterize the nature and the function of the nobility circa 1900? In what ways did the politics of the nobility seem to change in the early 20th century?

What generalizations characterize the nature and function of the state bureaucracy? Of the Orthodox Church?

Suny quotes Gramsci’s famous remark that in Russia "the state was everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous." What does this mean?

When did industrialization begin to "take off" in Russia, and what factors seem to have enabled this industrialization?

What factors seemed to stunt the development of industrial capitalism in Russia, and what function did the state have in the industrialization process?

Did Russia become an industrial capitalist society? Explain….

What is meant by the term "intelligentsia"?

Who were the "Westernizers," who were the "Slavophiles," and what were their politics?

What factors seem to have "pushed" elements of the intelligentsia towards championing revolution and violent rebellion?