RUMOURS AS THE MEANS OF PEASANTS’ SOCIOPOLITICAL ACTIVITY MOBILIZATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY: HISTORICAL AND HISTORIOGRAPHICAL DISCOURSE

KUDINOV D.V.

  • The purpose of the present article is to estimate the role and the place of rumours in the intensification, expansion and ideological content of peasant movement. Current thematic justification is determined, from the one hand, by frequent references in specialized scientific publications to the rumours role as the accelerator of peasants’ riots and, from the other hand, by the absence of particular research on peasant tittle-tattles of political nature. Thus, the object of this publication is boosting of historians of Peasantry to such narratives. The author of the article takes as a premise the idea that gossips generation should be investigated indispensably in cross-disciplinary light. The notion of “rumour” itself is mentioned in sciences as a dialog one – the variety of informal interpersonal communications resulting in transferring by word of mouth of the information which is not confirmed officially. It was demonstrated that peasants rumours at the beginning of the 20th century can be classified in three forms: “rumors-desires”, “rumors-bogeymen” and “aggressive rumours”. Gossips reflected mental paradigms of the Peasantry, modified public mind and directed social behavior, which was demonstrated in the works of historians-agrarians. Regarding the time period investigated in the article they specified not only peasants’ guesses, but also directives of the government and agitation of opposition to be the sources of rumours spreading. Under the conditions of propaganda inconsistency and low political culture of the peasants’ majority, who were unable to conceive revolutionary appeals adequately, the proclamations content was twisted and passed in the form of gossips. It is noted that in the rumours of sociopolitical nature the figure of the monarch was a keynote as well as the peasants’ expectations for the desire of the monarch to provide them with land, which was prevented by the officials, the landlords and other “enemies” of the agrarians. In this respect the rumours about the king gained “a family nature”. In such a way, the head of the state obtained the features characteristic to the peasants themselves, which was especially pointed out by A. Gaisinovich. Due to this, gossips received fantastic plots, where tsar and managed by him “princes”, “stewards” and “generals” acted as protagonists and the representatives of local authorities, landlords and officials played the role of antagonists. Therefore, rumours remained an essential part of general complex of peasant linguistic culture with its characteristic speech tokens, plots, moral and value components.

  • KUDINOV D.V. – Sumy Regional Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education, PhD (History) (Ukraine).

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