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State violence and target group adaptation: maintaining social status in the face of repressions in Soviet Russia

Lankina, Tomila V. ORCID: 0000-0002-8303-1747, Libman, Alexander and Tertytchnaya, Katerina (2023) State violence and target group adaptation: maintaining social status in the face of repressions in Soviet Russia. Journal of Peace Research. ISSN 0022-3433

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00223433231202822


How does state-led repression targeting communities influence the social reproduction of victimized groups? Although several excellent studies have explored the sociopolitical consequences of a broad set of conflict-trauma legacies, notably, communal, religious and kinship drivers of responses to state violence, few researchers have explored the mechanisms of social status preservation under violence. The omission of class and social status from conflict research is puzzling considering that millions of people from Cambodia to China and from Russia to Hungary have suffered from state-led violence that targeted entire social groups and communities – from monks and priests with privileged positions in the social hierarchies, to the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. To generate theory about the mechanisms of social submission, adaptation or resistance in the face of group-based repressions, we explored the effects of Soviet repressions on the survival choices and reproduction of the Tzarist educated strata. For our analysis, we deployed subnational data on repressions and social structure and combined this with novel survey evidence and archival sources. We found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, repressions did not prevent the Imperial educated estates from engaging in habitual status- and identity-enhancing pursuits. Throughout the Soviet period, these groups continued to aspire to higher education and professional achievement. What is more, we show that continuity in pursuits was more common in places with more extensive repressions and a larger ‘stock’ of pre-Revolutionary middle classes. We propose that in-group social bonding and permissive political opportunities facilitated social adaptation. Our findings contribute to conflict and social resilience literature.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2023 11:54
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2024 00:19

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