Author: Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter
Structures of Society: Imperial Russia's People of Various Ranks
Northern Illinois University Press
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A category of persons best defined by what they were not, the raznochintsy—"people of various ranks" or "people of diverse origins"—inhabited the shifting social territory between nobles and serfs in preindustrial Russia. Not nobles, serfs, merchants nor clergy, raznochintsy may have been by occupation administrative clerks, teachers, artists, retired soldiers, or street vendors. In official society, they were outsiders. Wirtschafter draws on a rich array of archival, legal, administrative, and public sources to show how this important but elusive category functioned in Russian society from the time of Peter the Great to the late nineteenth century.