“Challenges” and “Responses” of the 18TH Century Russia

“Challenges” and “Responses” of the 18TH Century Russia

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” of the 18TH Century Russia . Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2018. No 10. P. 130-139


The recently adopted “Strategy for the Scientific and Technical Development of the Russian Federation” examines the tasks facing the state within the framework of A. Toynbee’s “challenges and responses” concept. According to the historical experience, Russia previously had to respond to the economical, technological and military challenges. Investigation of the “challenge-response” mechanism reveals many details. Their understanding from the perspective of historical sociology can be helpful in our time as well. In the author’s previous paper, it was shown that one of Russia’s effective “responses” to the challenge of the West was the reforms of Peter I. The purpose of these reforms was to create a “regular state”, but after the death of the reformer, a period of a traditionalism reaction came, when many of the results of reforms were lost. In Prussia, the program for the creation of a regular state was carried out more consistently, and in the 1740s this new military power challenged the surrounding countries, including Russia. The response of Russia was expressed in the unsuccessful reforms of Peter III, which led to the death of the emperor, the weakening of the state and the formation of a “noble monarchy”. In this situation, the Russian society could not resist the new challenge expressed in the spread of the French aristocratic culture. As a result, social divisions have become cultural in nature. Meanwhile, the challenge from the Western “regular states”, Prussia and Austria, towards the end of the XVIII century sounded with a renewed vigor. Paul I tried to give a new respond to this challenge, but this attempt, as well as the attempt of Peter III, ended in failure.

Russian Federation; scientific and technological development strategy; Toynbee; challenges and responses; historical experience; 18th century; import of institutions; import of technologies


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