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Reviewed by:
  • Gosudarstvennoe upravlenie Rossii s kontsa XVII do kontsa XVIII veka: Evoliutsiia biurokraticheskoi sistemy, and: Administrativnye struktury i biurokratiia Urala v epokhu petrovskikh reform (zapadnye uezdy Sibirskoi gubernii v 1711–1727)
  • Brian L. Davies
Liubov′ Fedorovna Pisar′kova, Gosudarstvennoe upravlenie Rossii s kontsa XVII do kontsa XVIII veka: Evoliutsiia biurokraticheskoi sistemy [The State Administration of Russia from the Late 17th to the Late 18th Centuries: Evolution of the Bureaucratic System]. 743 pp. Moscow: Rosspen, 2007. ISBN 5824307873.
Dmitrii Alekseevich Redin, Administrativnye struktury i biurokratiia Urala v epokhu petrovskikh reform (zapadnye uezdy Sibirskoi gubernii v 1711–1727) [The Administrative Structures and Bureaucracy of the Urals in the Age of the Petrine Reforms (the Western Districts of the Governorship of Siberia in 1711–27)]. 608 pp. Ekaterinburg: Volot, 2007. ISBN 5890880381.

In recent years much effort in Russia has been invested in enlisting scholars and intellectuals in constructing a new post-Soviet "national idea" and reviving popular interest in Peter I as one of its emblems. This renewed attention to Peter's era—and concerns that it may lead to exaggerating and idealizing his achievement—has encouraged several leading Russian historians to weigh in with ambitious new studies of Peter's reforms of central and provincial government.1 These studies emphasize the discrepancy between the intentions and expectations of the Petrine reforms, on the one hand, and the performance of reformed institutions, on the other. They also pay considerable attention to the persistence of corruption. The studies by Liubov′ Pisar′kova and Dmitrii Redin represent the two most recent additions to this literature.

L. F. Pisar′kova offers a comprehensive and very detailed study of the development of both central and provincial government in Russia from the prikaz/voevoda system of the late 17th century to the "counterreforms" of Emperor Paul I, which she considers to be both a reaction against the Catherinian system and the foundation for the ministerial reform of Alexander I. She aims at devoting equal attention to the sociology and organization of the 18th-century Russian bureaucracy, arguing that past studies have not [End Page 173] been explicit enough in showing the linkages between changes in personnel policies (recruitment, training, terms of service, and remuneration) and changes in the structure and internal organization of administration. The reorganization of administration was necessarily shaped and limited in great part by the quality of cadres available to it. The single greatest challenge facing administration was finding the optimal balance between centralized control and accountable local initiative, and experimentation to find this balance point is why the course of administrative development over the 18th century tended to be convulsive and oscillatory rather than progressively linear. To support this argument Pisar′kova devotes unusually great detail—sometimes stupefying detail—to the organs of provincial government, particularly the less-studied lower fiscal and judicial offices.

Despite its subtitle, The Evolution of the Bureaucratic System, her book is not interested in weighing the development of Russian administration against some ideal Weberian model of emerging "rational bureaucracy." Hence there is no effort here to typologize late Muscovite administration as "pre-bureaucratic" and Petrine administration as "protobureaucratic" or to identify the point at which Russian imperial administration became "rationally bureaucratic." Nor is Pisar′kova much interested in following the historiographic tradition of generalizing from changes in administrative organization a succession of stages in sociopolitical development expressing the changing class character of the Russian state (such as Lenin's "chinovnik–dvorianstvo monarchy," or B. N. Mironov's model of a 17th-century "patriarchal popular monarchy" that was succeeded in the 18th century by a "paternalist noble monarchy").2

Her approach is more cautious and limits itself to assessing the effectiveness of administrative modifications in relation to changes in the declared "functions of rule": that is, changes in state policy that in some cases involved centralization and systematization and in others required devolution of authority and exceptions from the system. Her book is not entirely successful in fulfilling this goal, because it devotes so much detail to description of administrative organization that it sometimes allows space to discuss the development of policy only in the broadest terms. The impact of policy needs on organization and personnel policy is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-5000
Print ISSN
1531-023x
Pages
pp. 173-180
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-30
Open Access
No
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