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The Russian revolution and the factories of Petrograd, February 1917 to June 1918

Smith, S. A. (Stephen Anthony) (1980)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the ways in which the factory workers of Petrograd struggled between February 1917 and June 1918 to improve their position as workers and to democratise relations within the factories. It begins by examining the sociology of the factory workforce and posits the centrality of the division between a fully proletarianised minority of skilled, literate, male workers and the majority of low-paid, unskilled, peasant and women workers. These two groups had a different relationship to the labour movement during the revolution of 1917. Chapter 2 examines the position of workers within the tsarist factory, and chapter 3 the ways in which this position changed as a result of the overthrow of the autocracy in February 1917. Chapter 4 looks at the creation of the factory committees, their political complexion, and their activities in spheres as diverse as law and order, labour discipline and the campaign against drunkenness. Chapters 5 and 6 examine the political coloration of the trade unions, and the extent to which the two organisations were genuinely democratic. Chapters 7 and 8 analyse the battle by the factory committees for workers' control of production, challenging the Western interpretation of this battle as being inspired by anarcho-syndicalism, and interpreting it instead as an attempt to stem disorder in the economy and to preserve jobs. The debates about workers' control are surveyed, and chapter 10 shows how the terms of the debate about the roles of the factory committees and trade unions changed as a result of the Bolshevik seizure of power. Within the space of a few weeks, the movement for workers' control of production developed into a movement for workers' self-management and for the nationalisation of industry. In a context of mounting economic chaos, mammoth redundancies and plummeting labour discipline, the Bolshevik government decided that workers' self-management conflicted with the priority of raising productivity in industry. June 1918 saw a move to nationalise industry, but the end of the democratic experiment in workers' management.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Perrie, Maureen (1946-)
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Commerce and Social Sciences
Department:Centre for Russian and East European Studies
Subjects:HC Economic History and Conditions
DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
JC Political theory
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:1411
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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