The Social Impact of Industrialisation in the Russian Empire 1890-1914

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The Social Impact of Industrialisation in the Russian Empire 1890-1914

  • Industrialisation 'created new and potentially damaging' problems for the Tsar. (M. Collier)
  • It 'brought about major social changes', moving Russian society away from a land based society and creating both a 'new middle class and a new urban working class' (Sally Waller).

Positive Social Impacts

  • 'Capitalists (financiers and factory owners) did well out of the take off'-Michael Lynch
  • Opened up remote regions of the Empire connecting them with the industrial West, encouraging the internal migration of workers and increasing Russia's production and export potential.
  • Government contracts e.g. to build railways/factories provided lots of new opportunities for the enterprising so the middle class numbers grew, finding natural homes in the Zemstva.
  • New large factory owners, bankers, doctors, teachers and administrators were in demand and more peasants moved into 'middle management' as small workshop owners seized new opportunities. 

Negative Social Impacts

  • Led to social tensions and labour unrest that periodically threatened to undermine to autocracy. 
  • Railways facilitated the spread of news and ideas, not all supportive to the Tsarist regime.
  • The argicultural sector squeezed by the increase in taxation to pay for industrial development. 
  • 20-30% of Russia's grain was exported whilst peasants in the countryside suffered famine. 
  • Putting the rouble on the gold standard kept it at a high value which, together with the tarriff policy, resulting


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