A Comparative Analysis of the Transmission of Socio-Economic Inequalities
Edited by Fabrizio Bernardi and Gabrielle Ballarino
Chapter 10: The effects of parental social background on labour market outcomes in Russia
A century ago Russia was a highly stratified society with distinct groups of aristocracy, clergy, merchants, urban intelligentsia, industrial workers and peasants. Although some degree of social mobility existed (Mironov and Eklof 2000), the differences among social groups were clearly defined in terms of both economic resources and social status. One of the first decrees issued by the Bolsheviks in November 1917 abolished all estates, ranks and titles, and proclaimed all individuals in the new Soviet Republic to be equal citizens. Following the Marxist dogma, the Bolsheviks aimed to create a classless society in which all economic bases for social inequality would be removed. A system of ‘proletarian dictatorship’ was established that discriminated against members of the former privileged classes of the aristocracy, clergy and bourgeoisie. Some of them died during the Civil War, but many others left Russia. According to different estimates, the number of emigrants varied between 1 and 3 million (McKeown 2004). Some of those who stayed were prosecuted in the 1920s and 1930s. Were the equalizing policies of the early Soviet state successful? To some extent, the answer is ‘yes’.
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