Forms of Social Solidarity in Russia and the Soviet Union<sup>1</sup>

Geoffrey Hosking

in Trust and Democratic Transition in Post-Communist Europe

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263136
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734922 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Forms of Social Solidarity in Russia and the Soviet Union1

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Traditional interpretations of Russian society rest on a contrast between Russian authoritarianism and the liberties of Western societies. According to these interpretations, Russia right up to the twentieth century was a ‘patrimonial monarchy’ in which there was no distinction between sovereignty and ownership, so that the tsar's subjects were literally his slaves. There is no denying the highly authoritarian nature of the Russian state, and, in its twentieth-century hypostasis, its unique capacity to penetrate and affect the lives of ordinary people. But the image of slavery is overdone and partly misleading. At the base of the Russian power structure throughout the tsarist centuries was the village commune. The basic concept underlying the functioning of the village commune was krugovaya poruka, literally ‘circular surety’, but perhaps better translated as ‘joint responsibility’. This chapter discusses forms of social solidarity in Russia and the Soviet Union, focusing on the enterprise and the communal apartment as twin arenas of the daily lives of the majority of the country's townspeople.

Keywords: Russia; Soviet Union; village commune; krugovaya poruka; social solidarity; enterprise; communal apartment; joint responsibility

Chapter.  6276 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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