Russia's Missing Middle Class: The Professions in Russian History

By Harley D. Balzer | Go to book overview

nization must be set an appreciation of the very real (and changing) tensions within the profession.

While wartime conditions gave the government a rationale for preventing convocation of an All-Russian Congress of Engineers, its handling of the wartime economy also convinced large numbers of engineers that the autocracy was a disaster in economic and technical terms as well as politically. 83

Following the February Revolution, engineers returned to the professional agenda they had established before the war. They convened an all-Russian congress, sought to establish a unified engineering society, and devoted particular attention to establishing an identity distinct from both workers and management. Although western experience would lead us to expect engineers to be staunch supporters of a "bourgeois" regime, many Russian engineers were quite susceptible to the Bolsheviks' appeals. What there was of a technocratic movement in Russia found allure in an ideology promising rapid economic growth and technical transformation. 84 Some regarded the new regime as an opportunity to settle old grievances, while others saw the Bolsheviks as the only group capable of protecting their property and even their lives in an era of increasing anarchy. 85 Still others believed the Bolsheviks represented the best chance to defeat Russia's enemies. 86 If they did not welcome the Bolsheviks, many engineers were at least willing to give them a chance. Had they known what the new regime would mean for their profession, many--but not all--might have reconsidered. 87


Notes
1.
My formulation is presented in more detail in the Introduction to this volume, 3-6. It owes much to the work of Magali Sarfatti Larson, The Rise of Professionalism: A Sociological Analysis ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Steven Brint , In an Age of Experts: The Changing Role of Professionals in Politics and Public Life ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); Eliot Freidson, Professionalism Reborn: Theory, Prophecy and Policy ( Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Freidson, Professional Powers: A Study of the Institutionalization of Formal Knowledge ( Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1986); and Thomas L. Haskell, ed., The Authority of Experts: Studies in History and Theory ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984).

I have also benefited enormously from the growing literature on engineers in Europe and the United States. The most important sources on American engineers are Edwin Layton, The Revolt of the Engineers ( Cleveland: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1971); David F. Noble, America By Design: Science, Technology and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977); Monte A. Calvert , The Mechanical Engineer in America, 1830-1910 ( Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967); Daniel H. Calhoun, The American Civil Engineer, Origins and Conflict ( Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960); and Thomas P. Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm ( New York:

-79-

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