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имени первого Президента России Б.Н.Ельцина

The Evolution of the Peasant Family in the Middle Urals in the 20th Century: An Attempt at Reconstruction according to Budget Study Materials

Supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grant 18-09-00592

About project
The study was dedicated to the study of the patterns and characteristics of the evolution of the peasant family in the context of the demographic transition. The subject of the research has been studied fragmentarily. The only generalizing work written in a historical and demographic key and specially dedicated to the Russian rural family in the 20th century belongs to the pen of O.M. Verbitskaya. The reason for this situation lies, among other things, in an insufficient source base, as well as in the focus of research practices oriented on studying mainly political and economic processes, where family problems are considered in the background.
The basis of this study was the primary materials of budget statistics, on the basis of which the information resource was created. It is itself a database consisting of two tables describing the composition and economy of a peasant / collective farm family for 1928/1929 and 1963. The database was formed as an open multipurpose resource and has an independent value, it is located on the project page at:
The fundamental importance of budget statistics in comparison with other sets of sources (population census) is that it allows you to study the internal dynamics of the family, relying on the concept and methods of modeling the life cycle. In the sociology of the family, these methods became widespread in the 1970s-1980s, without affecting the earlier stages. The questionnaires of budget surveys preserved in the archives provide an idea of the structure, typology, dynamics, typical and atypical variants of family development at different historical stages.
The methodology for modeling the life cycle of a peasant family developed within the framework of the project can be considered as a significant result of the project.
Qualitative changes in the family and marriage sphere of peasant life took place under the influence of not only objective factors (urbanization, industrialization, changes in the reproduction regime), but also subjective (politics and ideology), as well as demographic disasters. Taking them into account, the following stages of the demographic transition of the Russian peasant family can be distinguished:

  • Stage 1 - evolution - (mid-19th century - 1920s) is characterized by a gradual accumulation of modernization changes, to which the peasant family as a whole has quite successfully adapted, relying on traditional mechanisms for regulating the demographic status of the family, taking into account the needs of the development of the family economy.
  • Stage 2 (1930s - 1950s) - the crisis of the peasant family - is associated with the transformation of its economic and demographic base. Within the framework of this stage, two substages are distinguished - the 1930s and the 1940s – 1950s. In the 1930s. there is a violent reformatting of the peasant economy into a personal subsidiary farms, relying on the practice of natural production and consumption. As a result of repression and migration, the rural population is declining; the demographic base of reproduction is narrowing. The Great Patriotic War not only consolidated, but also intensified negative trends in family processes. The death of men of reproductive age contributed to the formation of a population structure in the village, which was characterized by gender and age imbalance. The family in these conditions reacted with a reduction in the birth rate, average size and an increase in the number of single and incomplete families.
  • Stage 3 (1960s – 1980s) - involution of the peasant family, its disintegration or rebirth into a kind of urbanized rural family.

The structural and typological analysis of the peasant / collective farm family as a whole confirmed the conclusions available in the scientific historical and demographic literature on the general patterns of demographic transition, which include nuclearization, a decrease in typological diversity, a decrease in family size, fertility and marriage rates. The result of the influence of demographic catastrophes was the spread of incomplete families, the formation of the nucleus of which was associated with the illegitimate birth of children. In general, an incomplete family as a typical element of the social landscape of a village in the second half of the 20th century is formed not only under the influence of war and rural migration, emancipation, the establishment of a new reproduction regime (low birth rate / low mortality) and the transformation of traditional family values played a role. The superposition of these factors led to a synergistic effect and influenced the qualitative restructuring of the peasant family, which can be designated by the concept of “involution”.
The civilizational features characteristic of Russia as a whole and the Urals, in particular, include a high level of marriage and the age at first marriage. In 1989, it remained at practically the same level as at the end of the 19th century.
Thus, the study of the history of the peasant family in the XX century with the involvement of primary materials of budget statistics allowed:

  • firstly, to clarify the periodization of the demographic transition and transformation of the peasant family from the traditional type to the rural-urban type, as well as highlight its civilizational features, which should include the tight transition time, the lag of the modernization of the social sphere of the family from the demographic;
  • secondly, to analyze and rank the factors that influenced the restructuring of the family, among which political and ideological companies (collectivization and dispossession) and the Great Patriotic War played a special role, which caused demographic catastrophes and led to the crisis and involution of the peasant family;
  • thirdly, to conduct a comparative analysis of the family structure of the peasantry at the macro and micro levels at the initial and final stages of the demographic transition;
  • fourth, based on the methods of modeling the family life cycle, to study the mechanisms of family adaptation to external and internal challenges.

The research results have been tested at 17 all-Russian and international conferences and are presented in 20 publications, including 3 articles in journals indexed in WoS and Scopus, 2 in journals from the VAK list. Based on the results of the study, a manuscript of the monograph was prepared (13 printed sheets).

The project was running from 2018 to 2020 and is now completed.