Power in the Provinces: The Evolution of Local Government Practices in Imperial Russia, 1825-1917
This dissertation is a study of the political of local self-government in Imperial Russia over the course of the period 1825-1917. In particular, I concentrate on the zemstvos, elected bodies established in 1864 at the provincial and district levels to oversee a wide range of public works and social services. The zemstvo reform and other legislation on local self-government established general areas of operation, but left substantial leeway for the individual organizations to set policy priorities.I designed my project as a case study of two provinces: Moscow was urban and relatively wealthy, whereas Penza was poorer and more agrarian. My research focused on three particular areas: the role of leadership, taxation and spending priorities, and the negotiation of jurisdictional prerogatives between different institutions.I make several arguments about the evolution of local government practices and ideals in these particular provinces. First, the structure of elections and the general traditions of deference meant that leaders in the zemstvo and other local organizations could work with relatively limited oversight on the part of voters, assembly delegates, or provincial governors. As a result, leaders were able to rapidly expand their operations into particular areas of their choosing, resulting in significant variations between regions in the evolution of financial priorities.However, this independence also meant that leaders' priorities generally did not remain in place after their departure from office. We see little in the way of institutionalization or rationalization of particular local norms, and these organizations could vary widely in their policy priorities from one year to the next.Also, this particular arrangement of politics and policy encouraged the development of an idealized conception of local self-government. Leaders were insulated from many of the ordinary pressures of day-to-day politics, and conducted their activities in the belief that all were working towards a single goal--the "local mission." This left them particularly unsuited to resolve the conflicts that inevitably arose when their policies pitted the financial interests of one region against those of another.
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Progress without Consent: Enlightened Centralism vis-α-vis Local Self-Government in the Towns of East Central Europe and Russia, 1764-1840 Murphy, Curtis Gordon (Georgetown University, 2011)In the eighteenth century, European rulers pursued a common policy of enlightened centralism, which assaulted the rights of self-governing corporations in the name of material, social, and economic progress. For the towns ...