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Worker Resistance under Stalin

Worker Resistance under Stalin

Class and Revolution on the Shop Floor

Jeffrey J. Rossman

ISBN 9780674019263

Publication date: 11/30/2005

Challenging the claim that workers supported Stalin's revolution "from above" as well as the assumption that working-class opposition to a workers' state was impossible, Jeffrey Rossman shows how a crucial segment of the Soviet population opposed the authorities during the critical industrializing period of the First Five-Year Plan.

Marshaling an impressive range of archival evidence, Rossman recounts in vivid detail myriad individual and collective acts of protest, including mass demonstrations, food riots, strikes, slowdowns, violent attacks against officials, and subversive letters to the authorities. Male and female workers in one of Russia's oldest, largest, and "reddest" manufacturing centers--the textile plants of the Ivanovo Industrial Region--actively resisted Stalinist policies that consigned them to poverty, illness, and hunger.

In April 1932, 20,000 mill workers across the region participated in a wave of strikes. Seeing the event as a rebuke to his leadership, Stalin dispatched Lazar Kaganovich to quash the rebellion, resulting in bloodshed and repression. Moscow was forced to respond to the crisis on the nation's shop floors with a series of important reforms.

Rossman uncovers a new dimension to the relationship between the Soviet leadership and working class and makes an important contribution to the debate about the nature of resistance to the Stalinist regime.


  • With this challenging and deeply researched book, Jeffrey Rossman helps establish the paradigm of 'resistance' in Soviet historiography. He shows that among textile workers class consciousness and discourse continued to live well into the Soviet era. Rossman argues that collective memory of earlier struggles shaped social identity, political activism, indeed the entire relationship of workers to Soviet power in the Central Industrial Region.

    —Daniel Orlovsky, Southern Methodist University


  • Jeffrey J. Rossman is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

Book Details

  • 326 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press