The essays in this 1982 volume result from a conference held at Stanford University in 1978, assembled to assess the overall character and significance of the prerevolutionary Russian experiment with the principle and practice of local ...
self-government, the zemstvo, over half of its existence, 1864-1918. The unifying theme of the collection is the rejection of the liberal myth of the zemstvo as an instrument of social integration. The chapters focus on the substantive elements of conflict and tension that existed within the zemstvos, especially between the institutions' two principal groups: the landed gentry, who dominated the zemstvo, and the peasants, who constituted the majority of the population and were intended to the beneficiaries of most of the economic and cultural programs, yet had little part in their formation. Based on the contributors' extensive knowledge of their respective subjects, many of them provide information from previously unpublished materials in Soviet and American archives.