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Regular version of the site

Book

The Enterprisers: The Politics of School in Early Modern Russia

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

In this monograph I consider the role of institutional entrepreneurs –“projectors” in transferring organizational forms and building new secular school in Russia in the first half of the 18th century. During the period from the beginning of Peter I’s reforms until the accession of Catherine II, the institutional landscape of education in Russia has changed quite drastically. Pre-Petrine and the early Petrine schools were, in essence, pre-modern institutions: a “school” was conceived as a set of students gathering around an autonomous “master”-teacher and his "apprentices". By the time of Catherine II’s accession, however, Russia had a number of recognizably modern schools that differed little in their structure from the classical schools of the 19th century. These institutions were regulated by written instructions mandating, among other things hierarchical organization of faculty and staff; functional delineation of duties; regulation of the learning process and daily behavior of pupils and teachers; formal procedures for assessing and monitoring the students’ achievements and conduct. These schools were designed not just for training, but for achieving internalization by pupils of prescribed patterns of behavior and thinking to be attained through detailed modeling of their daily life and special organization of school space, including a pupil’s isolation from the outside world and constant monitoring. Separate chapters of the book to come out as a result of this project are devoted to the key episodes of implementing these new organizational forms. In the process, we propose a model of constructing the institutional landscape of modernity “from below,” not as the product of abstract “state policy,” but as an outcome of diverse efforts of individual actors, “institutional entrepreneurs,” for whom the introduction of these new organizational forms was a means to realize their own career strategies in competition with other courtiers and bureaucratic players. In the course of this project, we reconstruct the process of transfer of new organizational forms in education in Russia in the first half of the 18th century; demonstrate the role of key players in this process, their motivations, the social, financial, administrative and symbolic resources available to them, and their modes of action; reveal the competitive environment in which they operated; clarify the role of the monarch and the state apparatus in introduction of new organizational forms; identify factors affecting sustainability of new organizational forms. As a result, we propose a model and typology of institutional entrepreneurship as applied to early modern period and demonstrate its relevance to a wide range of countries beyond Russia.

The Enterprisers: The Politics of School in Early Modern Russia