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Social Mediation and State Construction(s) in Revolutionary Russia

William G. Rosenberg
Social History
Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, 1994), pp. 169-188
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4286195
Page Count: 20
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Social Mediation and State Construction(s) in Revolutionary Russia
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Abstract

This essay suggests that commonly held instrumentalist and 'weighty actor' conceptions of the state in revolutionary Russia have constricted our understanding of this formative period by ignoring the ways in which it was also embedded in complex sets of social processes and relations. The author focuses particularly on the ways in which processes of conflict mediation, initially located on 'the bright path of free civic organization', became themselves a central element of state practice. As a consequence, he argues, real state power during 1917 was soon located as much in the processes of conflict mediation as those of social control. The state-constraining aspects of political democracy were greatly weakened as a consequence; and the ubiquitous Bolshevik state, far from a construction simply of Leninist ideology or demonic politics, represented in its interventionist practices not so much a revolutionary break as a radical extension of these earlier social and socio-economic involvements.

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