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Download Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932 (Pitt Russian East European) ePub

by Prof. Kate Transchel

Download Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932 (Pitt Russian East European) ePub
  • ISBN 082294278X
  • ISBN13 978-0822942788
  • Language English
  • Author Prof. Kate Transchel
  • Publisher University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Pages 224
  • Formats lrf rtf docx mobi
  • Category Social Science
  • Subcategory Anthropology
  • Size ePub 1611 kb
  • Size Fb2 1659 kb
  • Rating: 4.6
  • Votes: 979

Under the Influence presents the first investigation of the social, cultural, and political factors that affected drinking and temperance among Russian and Soviet industrial workers from 1895 to 1932. Kate Transchel examines the many meanings of working-class drinking and temperance in a variety of settings, from Moscow to remote provinces, and illuminates the cultural conflicts and class dynamics that were deeply rooted in drinking rituals and the failure of attempted reforms by the Tsarist and Soviet authorities.

As the title suggests, workers were often under the influence of alcohol, but they were also under political influences that defined what it meant to be a Soviet worker. Perhaps more importantly, they were under deeper, prerevolutionary cultural influences that continued to shape lower-class identities after 1917. The more the Soviet state tried to control working-class drinking, the more workers resisted. Radical legislation, massive propaganda, and even coercion were not sufficient to motivate workers to abandon traditional forms of fraternization.

Under the Influence highlights working-class culture and underscores the limitations the Bolsheviks faced in attempting to create a cultural revolution to complete their social and political revolution.


Kate Transchel examines the many meanings of working-class drinking and temperance in a variety of settings.

Perhaps more importantly, they were under deeper, prerevolutionary cultural influences that continued to shape lower-class identities after 1917. The more the Soviet state tried to control working-class drinking, the more workers resisted.

Under the Influence book . Start by marking Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932 as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Under the Influence : Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932.

Hessler, Julie, 2007. Kate Transchel, Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895†1932. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006. Handle: RePEc:cup:ilawch:v:71:y:2007:i:01:p:208-210 00.

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Transchel, K. (2006). Under the influence: Working class drinking, temperance and cultural revolution in Russia, 1895–1932. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Trudolyubov, M. (2016, December 27). For Russians, bleak realities at home. Vidani, P. (2014, October 21). Vodka Permanently Banned in Russia.

Talk about Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932 (Pitt Russian East European)


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"Russians have an almost mystical relationship to drink in general and vodka in particular," writes Kate Transchel, associate professor of history at Chico State University. "Legend has it that a thousand years ago, when Grand Prince Vladimir ... pondered over which faith to adopt, he rejected Islam because it imposed restrictions on the consumption of hard liquor." So, in 986, Vladimir made Christianity the official religion of Russia. Transchel quotes a commentator as saying that "God, bread, water and vodka were the mainstays of Russia."

She writes that "the word 'vodka' historically referred to all common drinks based on spirits. In 19th-century Russian usage, the word 'vino' was more common than 'vodka' but still meant grain alcohol."

Just how ingrained (pardon the pun) vodka consumption is in Russia is the subject of Transchel's new book, "Under the Influence: Working-Class Drinking, Temperance, and Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1895-1932" ($35 in hardcover from University of Pittsburgh Press). Transchel's study is an engaging and accessible look at the culture of vodka in Russia and how even the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, in its forceful effort at building the "new worker," was no match against the "liquid assets" of the working class.

"Under the Influence" is a model of clear writing. Though it is a scholarly work -- the author traveled to Russia to study the archives of the industrial cities Moscow, Kharkov, Saratov and Tomsk -- the book presents telling details of the real life of the industrial worker.

The new Soviet state in the first decade-and-a-half after the Revolution tried "to craft a new society and a new type of citizen" by controlling education, getting rid of "bourgeois culture" and putting an end to "illiteracy, prostitution, religion and drunkenness." But in the 1920s "the Bolsheviks came face to face with their number one quandary: Workers did not act right. The proletariat was the new ruling class, but still it was stamped with the attributes of an oppressed class. Further, the behavior of the new working class, especially those fresh from the village, did not meet Bolshevik expectations: They came late to work, if at all; they broke their machines; they ignored the authority of bosses; and above all, they drank themselves into oblivion."

An attempt at imposing prohibition from 1914-1925 proved disastrous. Transchel reports that "urban workers resorted to drinking anything containing alcohol, including denatured spirits, cologne, lacquer and varnish. For example, in 1915 production of lacquer rose by 600 percent and varnish by 1,575 percent in Moscow. ... One can assume that in the absence of a concurrent surge in wood sales, the Russian populace had not turned to furniture refinishing for solace: A significant amount of these alcohol-based substances was being consumed."

The Bolsheviks were working not only against 500-year old Russian vodka culture but against the traditional state liquor monopoly (which Lenin reinstituted in 1925) and the use of grain for illegal samogon (home brew). Eventually alcoholism was redefined from a social disease "resulting from poor living and working conditions" to an "individual mental illness" (stemming from "believing in God or not learning to read") and official talk of workers' drunkenness ceased.

Stalin declared victory in 1933, urging workers "to reward themselves for a job well done with a 'little glass of champagne'." Just after World War II alcohol sales rebounded ("comprising approximately 29 percent of all state revenues") and a popular poster in the Khrushchev era said: "Delicious, cheap and nutritious -- drink vodka. Absolutely!"

Copyright 2006 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
Chillhunter
This book does an excellent job of examining how those in power in Russia from 1895-1932 understood drinking and the impact on state policy and Russia’s working classes. She examines patterns of drinking among the working class and peasants both before, during, and after the Bolshevik Revolution, as well as the efforts of the government, Church, and reform groups to control the consumption of the lower class. Overall, it was a fascinating read, but I wish she had gone into more detail regarding the deep divide between workers that was enhanced and embodied by their drinking habits.
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