Edited by Anna Pavlovskaya and Grigory Kanarsh
The site was developed with the support of the Russian Foundation for the Humanities (project №13-03-12003).

Main/Ethnic and Cultural Diversity of Russia/Russian National Character and Mentality/

Pavlovskaya A. V. Peasant commune and its influence on Russian character

The paper presents a part of the book “Russian world: character, way of life, morals and manners”. Collectivism or communality is one of the distinguishing traits of the Russian national character. For centuries Russian peasants lived in communal groups called peasants’ communes that were their protection from the outside world. The new conditions and the introduction of collective farms in soviet times made it impossible for this institution. But overall, the soviet system supported the idea of collective work, personal contact and mutual help. All the important questions were debated together, at a general gathering. This system did not allow the weak to fail nor did it allow the strong to rise up.

The feeling of communality, a ‘collective guarantee’ have considerably influenced the Russian national character. Russians love to ask for and give advice. This feeling of collectivism makes Russians have no hesitation in getting involved in the affairs of their friends, neighbours or even passers-by. Taking decisions as a collective is also normal for Russians. A solution is always found, whatever the situation, and nobody will want to ‘go against the collective group opinion’.

Russian collectivism should never be understood in a simple, or worse idealised, way. Сollective responsibility sometimes results in a lack of responsibility: why should I do it, maybe somebody else will do it?

According to the author, one of the interesting results of Russians’ collective consciousness is the system of connections that is usually called ‘blat’ (getting things because you have influence, because you know the right people) that manifests in all socio-economic spheres.

Keywords: collective consciousness, collectivism, communality, peasants’ communes, blat.

Full text in Russian

Print version