|Development of the Peasant Migration in the Baltic Provinces of Russian Empire: Authocratic Monarchy and Family Decisions (1840s-1905)|
|Development of the migration situation in the Russian Empire and its Baltic provinces has a specific place in the history of European modernization of the 19th century. The political system of Russian Empire determined a high level of governmental influence but from other side – intensification of migration processes indicated similar social changes as in other parts of Europe.
Importance of family and individual (micro-level) decisions and its connections to the governmental or provincial legislation (macro-level) embraces several important aspects: the simplest level – normative influence on the migration intensity or destinations. The second level includes not only idea about some clearly definable causal interactions but more complicated network of those. It includes the attitude against peasant rights or ability to reach a reasonable decision singly, arbitrary migration as a specific reaction and phenomenon, social or national movement and social emancipation as interconnected processes in the Baltic case, specifics of communication amidst the peasantry and the parish (middle-level) social life, attitude against the role of family and individual decisions in the newspapers etc.
In the paper some of these aspects are analyzed. In the early period of the Baltic peasant out-migration (1840s-middle of the 1860s) important was the arbitrary migration as a way to eschew from the official restrictions. The arbitrary migration and massive interest about migration during discussions on migration problem was used as an argument to justify the conservative premise that the peasants are not able to make reasonable decision considering the migration. Arisen from such context, discussions on peasant “levity” or “imprudence” remained protractedly actual. In such way there were specific links and contradictions between official restrictions (governmental and provincial interests) and the family decisions, real situation of migration and circulation of information about it.
Another important question is the real mechanism of making decisions about migration and its image in newspapers or later historiography. Because of protractedly critical attitude against the governmental or provincial policy amidst the Baltic peasantry, there formed a situation, where the image of out-migration (or emigration) was shaped ignoring role of decisions or attitude of the micro-level (individual, family). Namely, when describing the migration processes, the critic of socio-economic or judicial situation dominated, ignoring the role of individual, family and specific features of communication.
Both of these dichotomies – conservative policy against the migration and the arbitrary migration and the dominance of the macro-level processes and ignoring the micro-level, shows that the development of migration and normative influence on it could not be simplified as a causal link between normative acceptance of migration and increase of it. This premise is especially important during research of migration in such autocratic regime as the Russian Empire, where all processes seemingly were determined only by the governmental or provincial policy.|