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Peasant land reform, representation and civil rights: the development of constitutional thought in the zemstvos in Russia, 1905-1907

Jones, Thomas (2013) Peasant land reform, representation and civil rights: the development of constitutional thought in the zemstvos in Russia, 1905-1907. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This paper examines constitutional political opinions among the members of provincial and district zemstvos in Russia, in order to explain this group’s rejection of liberal political parties in the first two Dumas. It finds that the rejection of these parties was not entirely synonymous with a rejection of liberal constitutional ideas among the zemstvo rank and file, who exhibited support for constitutionalism in three main areas. Firstly, arguments advanced against land expropriation among the zemstvo rank and file were based upon the desire to reinforce economic individualism amongst the peasantry, which was considered to be an essential basis for a constitutional regime. Secondly, the zemstvo rank and file supported a Duma elected upon a restricted franchise that would play a role in the political modernization of the peasantry in order to encourage norms of constructive political participation and reduce the popularity of extremist parties. Finally, government repression was criticized on the basis that it contravened notions of law and due process. Evidence from the southern provinces suggests that repression was valued for its role in restoring law and order, although the legality of the repression was still criticized. These findings suggest that the landed nobility who made up the majority of the members of the provincial and district zemstvos were more supportive of constitutional reform in Russia than has previously been suggested, which is significant to historical debates surrounding the stability of the tsarist regime before the First World War.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Thomas Jones
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 10:15
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2014 10:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5110

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