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The two-pronged middle class: the old bourgeoisie, new state-engineered middle class and democratic development

Lankina, Tomila V. ORCID: 0000-0002-8303-1747 and Libman, Alexander (2021) The two-pronged middle class: the old bourgeoisie, new state-engineered middle class and democratic development. American Political Science Review, 115 (3). pp. 948-966. ISSN 1537-5943

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S000305542100023X


We contribute to research on the democratic role of middle classes. Our paper distinguishes between middle classes emerging autonomously during gradual capitalist development and those fabricated rapidly as part of state-led modernization. To make the case for a conceptual distinction between these groups within one national setting, we employ author-assembled historical district data, survey, and archival materials for pre-Revolutionary Russia and its feudal estates. Our analysis reveals that the bourgeois estate of meshchane covaries with post-communist democratic competitiveness and media freedoms, our proxies of regional democratic variations. We propose two causal pathways explaining the puzzling persistence of social structure despite the Bolsheviks' leveling ideology and post-communist autocratic consolidation: (a) processes at the juncture of familial channels of human capital transmission and the revolutionaries' modernization drive and (b) entrepreneurial value transmission outside of state policy. Our findings help refine recent work on political regime orientations of public-sector-dependent societies subjected to authoritarian modernization.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2021 11:33
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 02:36

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