Russia: Late-Take Off Society in the Whirlwind of World Politics

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-11-42-52
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Acknowlegdements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation. Project 14-28-00097 “Optimization of Russia’s External Investment Links amidst Worsening Relations with the EU”.

Abstract. Russia is regarded as a “late take-off” society (other participants in this “cohort” – Germany, Japan, Italy), the modernization of which was guided from above, by the state and its agencies, indirectly reflecting the lack of alternative, spontaneous modernization option. The author, while exploring the phenomenon of modern Russian society in the unity of historical, economic, sociocultural and political forms of existence, tries to identify the similarities as well as differences between the domestic society, on the one hand, and the “classical” West, that is Northwest Europe, on the other. The comparison demonstrates: Russia is the most complex organism among the “late take-off” societies, in the modernization of which the state has played and continues to play a pivotal role in its various historical and political forms and manifestations. The paper outlines the main stages of the “guided” transformation of Russian society. Fundamental to the modernization of Russia were: Peter and Catherine’s societal transformations, the first industrial revolution in the country (1850–1890s), emergence of the “organized capitalism” system in Germany, Japan, and later in the USA, the October Revolution, World War II, Soviet-American bipolarity. The accelerated transition of Russia from rural to industrial society was accompanied by deformations (deviations from the West European “standard”), return movements (“counter-reforms”), and impediments to reception of representative institutions and practices by the masses. External pressure reinforced the tendency of state domination over society, which subsequently transformed into paternalistic behavior patterns. Migration flows were not accompanied by social and professional diversification of Russian society. From now on, the logic of the accelerated development of Russia was shaped by competition with the West that was undergoing the industrial revolution. This competition endangered the homeostatic equilibrium of traditional society. The World War I revealed the peripheral, subordinate position of Russia in the international system. The most radical approach to regaining a major power status in world politics was proposed by the Bolshevik Party, who led the October Revolution of 1917. The Communist model has become instrumental of advancing transformation of traditional/rural society into a modern, urban one. Subsequently, the exhaustion of the communist model’s internal resources gave rise to a painful search for a new modernization and development paradigm. Currently, Russia’s existential task is to accelerate the pace of economic growth, help society enter the trajectory of sustainable development and, consequentially, participate in the world system on the basis of “strategic autonomy” that is unconditional sovereignty.

Keywords: Russia, modern society, society of the “late-take off”, modernization, industrial revolution, industrial society, different-stadiality of world development, October Revolution, bipolar world


  1. Gerschenkron A. Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1962. 468 p.
  2. Gerschenkron A. Continuity in History and Other Essays. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1968. 545 p.
  3. Nesterov F.F. Svyaz’ vremen. Opyt istoricheskoi publitsistiki [The Continuity of Time. Studies in Historical Journalism]. Moscow, Molodaya gvardiya, 1987. 239 p.
  4. Greenfeld L. Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1992. 596 p.
  5. Mori K. Moliere. Transl. from French. Moscow, Molodaya gvardiya, 2011. 308 p.
  6. Dunn J. Modern Revolutions: an Introduction to the Analysis of a Political Phenomenon. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1972. 346 p.
  7. Essays on Russian ulture of the 19th century. Vol. 4. Social Thought. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 2003. 528 p. (In Russ.)
  8. Solov’eva A.M. Promyshlennaya revolyutsiya v Rossii v XIX v. [The Industrial Revolution in Russia in the 19th Century]. Moscow, Nauka, 1990. 272 p.
  9. Essays on Russian ulture of the 19th entury. Vol. 1. Socio-ultural Environment. Moscow, Izdatel’stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1998. 384 p. (In Russ.)
  10. Novikov A.I. Nigilizm i nigilisty. Opyt kriticheskoi kharakteristiki [Nihilism and Nihilists. Experience of Critical Performance]. Leningrad, Lenizdat, 1972. 296 p.
  11. Inkeles A., Smith D.H. Becoming Modern. Individual Change in Six Developing Countries. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1974. 437 p.
  12. Hoffbauer H. Rossiya: obraz vraga. Istoriya odnoi demonizatsii. Per. s nem. [Russia: Image of the Enemy. History of One Demonization. Transl. from German]. Krasnodar, Ekoinvest, 2018. 495 p.
  13. Nayar B.R. The Geopolitics of Globalization. The Consequences for Development. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2005. 301 p.
  14. Stalin I.V. O zadachakh khozyaistvennikov. Rech’ na pervoi Vsesoyuznoi konferentsii rabotnikov sotsialisticheskoi promyshlennosti 4 fevralya 1931 g. [On the Tasks of Business Executives. Speech at the First All-Union Conference of Workers of Socialist Industry on February 4, 1931]. Stalin I.V. Sochineniya, t. 13 [Works, vol. 13]. Moscow, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1951, pp. 29-42.
  15. Senyavskii A.S. Rossiiskii gorod v 1960-e – 1980-e gody [Russian ity in 1960s‑1980s]. Moscow, IRI RAS, 1995. 263 p.
  16. Osborne R. Of the People, By the People. A New History of Democracy. London, The Bodley Head, 2011. 330 p.
  17. Kennedy P. Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. New York, Random House, 1993. 428 p.
  18. Hoffbauer H. “Etnizatsiya” sotsial’nykh konfliktov v Evrope: kak Zapad ispol’zuet kontsept samoopredeleniya natsii dlya rasshireniya svoego vliyaniya na Vostoke [“Ethnization” of Social Conflicts in Europe: How the West Uses the Concept of Self-Determination of Nations to Expand Its Influence in the East]. Vestnik Diplomaticheskoi akademii MID Rossii. Rossiya i Mir, 2014, no. 2, pp. 44-54.
  19. Volodin A.G. Stanovlenie politsentricheskogo miroustroistva kak prodolzhenie geopoliticheskikh protsessov XX veka [The Formation of a Polycentric World Order as a Continuation of Geopolitical Processes of the 20th Century]. Outlines of Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Law, 2019, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 6-31.
  20. Dashkova E.R. Zapiski. 1743–1810 [Notes. 1743– 1810]. Leningrad, Nauka, 1985. 288 p.
  21. Hiro D. After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World. New York, Nation Books, 2010. 348 p.
  22. Kindleberger Ch.P. World Economic Primacy: 1500 to 1990. New York – Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996. 269 p.

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Volodin A. Russia: Late-Take Off Society in the Whirlwind of World Politics . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 11, pp. 42-52.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 4
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Financial Contagion Propagation in Europe under the Impact of Global Shocks
  • Regional Powers on the African Continent: Trends and Prospects
  • Investment Activity of the PRC in the Kyrgyz Republic
  • “Land Grabbing” Concept: Global and National Aspects
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.