The article considers Russian rural pubs in the second half of the 19th century as a specific place of peasant meetings with the club features. The author describes rural life based on the narrative and legislative sources of the 1860s –1890s for the north-western and central agrarian provinces. By the end of the 19th century, the number of voluntary associations in Russia had significantly increased, and clubs were very popular. Until recently, clubs were considered as an exclusively social-cultural phenomenon of urban social and everyday life. In the late 19th century, the social functions of clubs widened beyond some leisure places for urban residents. In the second half of the 19th century, there was a tendency to consider pubs in rural areas not only as clubs but also as the sprouts of civil society. The article shows that pubs as a public space of peasant life had signs of urban clubs, but their functions were limited to leisure with some elements of business and communication. The traditional dichotomy of peasant life — family and community — gained additional meanings due to the expansion of peasant interaction and to the additional functionality of rural pubs. Moreover, as a phenomenon of rural life pubs represented a social anomaly (drunkenness) and absorbed some changes in the traditional way of peasant life, which reflected both the developing ties between the village and the city and the greater openness of the peasant world.
Russia, the second half of the 19th century, peasantry, public space, excise duty, pub, club, leisure, everyday life.
Natalia I. Gorskaya, DSc (History), Professor, Department of Russian History, Faculty of History and Law, Smolensk State University. Przhevalskogo St., 4, Smolensk, 214000.
Gorskaya Anna A., Chief-Biblographer at the Fedorov Museum-Library, Moscow. Profsoyuznaya str., 92.