Rumours as the Means of Peasants’ Sociopolitical Activity Mobilization at the Beginning of the 20TH Century: Historical and Historiographical Discourse
Authors: KUDINOV D.V.
Number of views: 397
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.