Taking the household or the family as the central unit of analysis the project studies income earning strategies of the non-agrarian population in twentieth century Russia and the Soviet Union. Taking in the last decades of the tsarist period, the entire Soviet period, and the post-communist period, it is studied how households used the human capital, labour- and other resources at their disposal to generate income and how they adjusted their behaviour in this respect to changes in the social, economic and political environment. The aim is to gain better understanding of the way in which the population overcame the deep-going social and economic upheaval that characterised the twentieth century in this part of the world. This makes it imperative to look at households' interaction with the state. Through regulation of labour relations, taxation and social legislation, but at times also through outright intervention in economic life, the state plays a crucial role in defining the range of options households face in shaping their economic behaviour. In the course of the twentieth century the population of what was first the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation experienced two major changes in the role of the state in society and economy, with the state taking and relinquishing control in respectively the 1930s and 1990s. Both of these turnarounds resulted in widespread social and economic upheaval and a catastrophic drop in living standards. The ways in which household changed their economic behaviour to confront these difficulties stand at the centre of attention in the project.
Research was carried out in Moscow between 2002 and 2006 by a team of five researchers, headed by Dr. Gijs Kessler from the International Institute of Social History. The team is currently preparing a publication of the results of the project. Intermediary results were presented at several international conferences:
- XIV International Economic History Congress, Helsinki, Finland (21-25 August 2006)
- Family and Household in Urban East and Southeast Europe, Graz, Austria (18-20 May 2006)
- Sixth European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC), Amsterdam, The Netherlands (22-25 March 2006)
- VII World Congress of International Council for Central and East European Studies, Berlin, Germany (25-30 July 2005)
- Labour History of Russia and the Soviet Union: Work in Progress Amsterdam, The Netherlands (31 March-2 April 2005)
- 36th Annual convention of the American American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS), Boston MA, USA (4-7 December 2004)
- Fifth European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC), Berlin, Germany (24-27 March 2004)
- Annual conference of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES), Cambridge, UK (29-31 March 2003)
Publications & Working Papers
- Gijs Kessler, "A Population under Pressure. Household Responses to Demographic and Economic Shock in the Inter-War Soviet Union", in Donald Filtzer et al. (eds), A Dream Deferred: New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History, International and Comparative Social History 11 (Bern, Switzerland ; New York, 2008), pp. 315-342.
- Andrei Markevich, "Finding Additional Income. Subsidiary Agriculture of Soviet Urban Households, 1941-1964", in Donald Filtzer et al. (eds), A Dream Deferred: New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History, International and Comparative Social History 11 (Bern, Switerzland ; New York, 2008), pp. 385-415.
- Sergey Afontsev, "The Choice of Income-Earning Activities: Russian Urban Households and the Challenges of Transition", in Donald Filtzer et al. (eds), A Dream Deferred: New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History, International and Comparative Social History 11 (Bern, Switerzland ; New York, 2008), pp. 417-440.
- Timur Valetov, "Migration and the Household: Urban Living Arrangements in Late 19th - Early 20th Century Russia", The History of the Family, 13(2) (2008), pp. 163-177.
- Sergey Afontsev, Gijs Kessler, Andrei Markevich, Victoria Tyazhel'nikova and Timur Valetov, "The Urban Household in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1900-2000. Patterns of Family Formation in a Turbulent Century", The History of the Family, 13(2) (2008), pp. 178-194.
- Timur Valetov, "Chem zhili rabochie liudi v gorodakh Rossiiskoi imperii kontsa XIX - nachala XX v.", in Sotsial'naia istoriia. Ezhegodnik 2007 (Moskva, 2007), pp. 176-196.
- Gijs Kessler, "Structuring time, allocating labour: income-earning strategies of urban households in Russia and the Soviet Union: Introduction", Continuity and Change, 20(3) (2005), pp. 407-408.
- Gijs Kessler, "Work and the household in the inter-war Soviet Union", Continuity and Change, 20(3) (2005), pp. 409-442.
- Andrei Markevich, "Soviet urban households and the road to universal employment, from the end of the 1930s to the end of the 1960s", Continuity and Change, 20(3) (2005), pp. 443-473 - Victoria Tyazhelnikova, "The value of domestic labour in Russia, 1965-186", Continuity and Change, 21(1) (2006), pp. 1-35.
- Sergey Afontsev, "Post-Soviet Urban Households: How Many Income Sources Are Enough?", Continuity and Change, 21(1) (2006), pp. 131-157.
- Sergey Afontsev, Gijs Kessler, Andrei Markevich, Victoria Tyazhel'nikova, Timur Valetov, Urban Households in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1900-2000. Size, Structure and Composition, IISH Research paper 44, Amsterdam, 2005 (PDF file, attached, 84pp., 908Kb)
The Moscow team consists of Sergey Afontsev (Institute for World Economy and International Relations), Gijs Kessler (International Institute of Social History), Andrei Markevich (University of Warwick), Viktoria Tyazhel'nikova, and Timur Valetov (Moscow State University).
The Advisory Board
Prof. Dr. Leonid Borodkin (Moscow State University), Prof. Dr. Andrei Sokolov (Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Arts and Sciences).
The project is financed by the Friends of the International Institute of Social History.
If you want more information about the project, please contact Dr. Gijs Kessler: firstname.lastname@example.org