“Challenges” and “Responses” in the history of Russia (Pre-Petrine and Petrine reforms, 1615–1725)

“Challenges” and “Responses” in the history of Russia (Pre-Petrine and Petrine reforms, 1615–1725)

Nefedov S.А.

Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Leading researcher, Institute of History and Archeology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Prof., Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia hist1@yandex.ru

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Nefedov S.А. “Challenges” and “Responses” in the history of Russia (Pre-Petrine and Petrine reforms, 1615–1725). Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 9. P. 78-87


“The theory of challenges and responses”, developed by A. Toynbee, is well-known. However, until now the use of this theory has been rather shallow, in the case of Russia the challenge has generally been treated as abstract military pressure from the West. Meanwhile, the recently adopted “Strategy of the Russian Federation scientific and technological development” considers as challenges the emergence of new technologies, particularly in the military sphere. In the context of this document, the appearance of a particular new technology is a challenge requiring specific response. As responses to the great challenges, one considers the imported technologies or creation of groundbreaking technologies, technology leadership. Obviously, grand challenges of this kind – as well as responses to them – are not specific for 21th century; such challenges Russia had faced for centuries, and had to respond to them. Investigation of the “challenge-response” mechanism reveals such details as the contradictions among elite on the issue of formulating responses, resistance to innovations on the part of the conservative elite groups. The response to the military challenges in all cases was import of military technologies with the help of the western military experts and purchase of Western military technologies. The first response of this kind in the 1630s failed due to resistance of the traditionalist elite. The second response in the 1650s was more grandscale, but ran into obstacles due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure and funds. The response to economic challenge in the mid‑17th century was an attempt of institutional imports, which, however, was unsuccessful and caused traditionalists’ reaction.

Russian Federation; scientific and technological development strategy; Toynbee; Challenges and Responses; historical experience; 17–18th century; import of institutions; import of technologies


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