A venture in sociological understanding of the history of Russian Empire (about the book “Russian Empire:
From Traditional to Modern Society”. Saint-Petersburg, 2014–2015)
Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof., Head of the Economic Sociology Department, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Sci.(Philosophy), Professor and Head of Economic Sociology Department, Saint-Petersburg State University (SPSU), Director of Socilogical Insitute, Russian Academy of Science, Saint-Petersburg, Russia email@example.com
This is a book review of Boris Mironov “Russian Empire: From Traditional to Modern Society” (3 volumes, St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Bulanin Publishing House, 2014–2015). Mironov made a decisive attempt to combine two methodological approaches in his study: the historical as well as the sociological approach. He displays an ability to choose from the huge amount of the historical facts; to select systematically and to allocate the data; to reveal trends and to show the laws of the functioning and development of Russian society during the times of empire. There are no military victories of the Russian army and Navy, no Palace intrigues, no stunning facts on the coup d’état listed in this book. This is a full-fledged social history of Russian Empire, focused on the demographical changes, economic development and social transformations. Could we consider Russian Empire to be economically successful? Mironov without any equivoques answers yes. Based on the thorough analysis of the prices over two centuries, Mironov concludes that at the turn of XIX–XX centuries the prices in Russia and Western Europe fluctuated synchronously, the gap between them was reduced to 20%, that is, the level of the transportation costs. It proved that Russian Empire was more or less integrated into the European market system. Studying anthropometric data, Mironov also revealed that the living standards and the economic well-being of working classes were not so low to compare with European countries. The main trends of Russia’s modernization – urbanization; industrialization; social transformation – developed practically in the same way and through the same patterns as in the European world. It’s more important that on the base of his historical foreseeing Mironov claims that our future will be determined by the European path of the development. We, Russians, firmly (and probably forever) are linked by unbreakable bonds to European world.