Changes and Continuities in Labor Systems in Russia

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Between 1750 and 1914, Russia underwent major changes to its labor system due to the expansion of other countries. The tsar Alexander II’s reforms emancipated the serfs and industrialized the economy, creating new jobs in factories and industries like coal, steel, and petroleum. However, the treatment of serfs and the type of reform remained largely unchanged. Freed serfs were still treated poorly, and the reforms were aimed at benefiting the state rather than the individual. The government also made no attempt to improve conditions in the cities or factories, and public expression of opinion was banned to prevent uprisings.

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Changes and Continuities in labor systems in Russia Between 1750 and 1914, England, Germany, and Western Europe were all expanding. England was gaining land and trust in the Middle East, Germany was becoming an established nation, and Western Europe was thriving due to the Industrial Revolution. After recognizing all of this, Russia decided it was time for reform or be left in the dust. This caused major changes in Russia’s labor system such as emancipation of the serfs and industrialization to keep up with the changing world.

Although they were going through these changes, there were continuities such as the treatment of the serfs and the type of reform they were doing. Huge changes came to Russia when the tsar Alexander II came to power. His reforms freed the serfs and industrialized the nation’s economy. In the past, Russian serfs were tied to the land and worked on the land for the land owners and received no pay. While they were permitted to have farms of their own, serfs had to work the lord’s land whenever called upon, even during times of harvest when their own crops need harvesting or tending.

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Due to Alexander II’s reforms, these serfs were freed. Once these serfs were freed, they either went into the city to look for work or out to the country to find land. Many also fled to surrounding societies to escape the Russian hardships of being a serf. Russian labor was also changed through Industrialization, also influenced by Alexander II’s reforms. Factories and railroads expanded and industries like coal, steel, and petroleum boomed. Serfs who were emancipated found easy work in factories that were booming.

With new industries creating new jobs and plenty of freed serfs to take them, the Russian labor system greatly changed between 1750 and 1914. Even though there were many changes like the emancipation of the serfs and industrialization, some continuity remained such as the treatment of serfs and the type of reform. The serfs were now freed and could find jobs in the city or land in the country, but they could not get rid of their past. They were criticized and treated horribly. Freed serfs that worked in factories were underpaid and overworked.

Serfs that moved to the country to become farmers had to pay for that. No matter what, they couldn’t escape their social status or the cruelty. The past treatment of serfs continued on even after reform. Continuity stayed in the Russian labor systems through the type of reform instituted. Even though reforms for a country like Russia were revolutionary, the type of reform instituted still benefitted the state rather than the individual, as the case has always been in Russia. The Russian government made no attempt to fix the situation in the cities or factories that were filthy and confined and abusive.

The Russian government kept only kept their own interests in mind. When angry people began complaining about conditions, the government banned public expression of opinion to keep uprisings from happening. Even though there were many reforms made, the attitude towards the emancipated serfs and those controlling the labor force, did not. In conclusion, there were significant changes made in the Russian labor system between 1750 and 1914 like the emancipation of the serfs and industrialization throughout Russia. Continuities included the treatment of serfs and the type of governing over the labor forces.

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Changes and Continuities in Labor Systems in Russia. (2016, Nov 21). Retrieved from

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