Intelligentsia


Intelligentsia
   The term derives from the Russian word intelligentsiia, which denotes a social class of people engaged in mental and creative labor directed at disseminating knowledge and cultural values. In the Russian imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet traditions, the term “intelligentsia” typically refers to an intellectual class of people who think differently and who are critical of the existing political regime; as a manner of simplification, it is possible to suggest that the ultimate job of intelligentsia is to critique power.
   In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the term was used for self-definition of a certain category of intellectuals who did not find a niche in the Marxist-Leninist template of social classes. The ideology of the Bolsheviks—the majority of whom were, ironically, intellectuals—did not view intelligentsia as a social class; for them it was a stratum, encompassing individuals who did not belong to the established classes of exploiters and workers. This ambiguous status served the Soviet state in both practical and ideological ways. In the first instance, those in power were able to mask their real social affiliation under the mantle of intelligentsia and thus were able to escape the stigma of their nonproletarian backgrounds. In the second instance, individuals involved in arts, music, and other creative industries, as well as freethinking university lecturers and schoolteachers, could be branded as dissident intelligentsia, and purged. Therefore, the term intelligentsia simultaneously has negative and positive connotations in the Soviet political-speak, as well as everyday discourse, allowing the term to simultaneously refer to the best and worst of Soviet society.
   Genuine intelligentsia should be differentiated from the “priviligentsiya,” a concept that derives from two Russian words, “intelligentsia” and “privilege,” and refers to sections of Soviet nomenklatura>, who dominated cultural production and education in the USSR and who invariably had access to a high standard of living, health care, and other social privileges.
   Intelligentsia were most affected economically and socially in the transient period of the 1990s as the state lowered its support to creative professions to a minimum and as the former system of social and cultural institutions collapsed. In addition, the role of intelligentsia as the moral anchor of Russian society was diminished in a country with a decentralized, disengaged, and morally bankrupt social system. A new class of intellectuals appeared at the dawn of the new millennium, encompassing individuals working in media industries who managed to find new ways to communicate their ideas to interested groups.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • intelligentsia — [ ɛ̃teliʒɛnsja; inteligɛnsja ] n. f. VAR. intelligentzia • 1920; mot russe, « intelligence », 1901 1 ♦ Hist. La classe des intellectuels, dans la Russie tsariste. Le mouvement nihiliste a recruté la plupart de ses adeptes dans les rangs de l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Intelligentsia — Intelligentsia, (du polonais inteligencja, en russe : интеллигенция), est une classe sociale engagée dans un travail de création et de dissémination de la culture, accompagnée par les artistes et les enseignants. Au XXIe siècle, le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • intelligentsia — n. an educated and intellectual[2] elite; intellectuals, collectively or considered as a class. [WordNet 1.5 +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intelligentsia — the intellectual class collectively, 1905, from Rus. intelligyentsia, from L. intelligentia (see INTELLIGENCE (Cf. intelligence)). Perhaps via It. intelligenzia …   Etymology dictionary

  • intelligentsia — is a singular noun meaning ‘the class of intellectuals regarded as possessing culture and political initiative’. The form of the word is Russian, and it was originally applied disparagingly in pre revolutionary Russia. In a weakened sense, it… …   Modern English usage

  • intelligentsia — ► NOUN (treated as sing. or pl. ) ▪ intellectuals or highly educated people, regarded as possessing culture and political influence …   English terms dictionary

  • intelligentsia — [in tel′ə jent′sē ə; ] esp. formerly [, in tel′əgent′sē ə] pl.n. [Russ intelligentsiya < L intelligentia: see INTELLIGENCE] [also with sing. v.] the people regarded as, or regarding themselves as, the educated and enlightened class;… …   English World dictionary

  • Intelligentsia — For the coffee shop company, often called Intelligentsia, for short, see Intelligentsia Coffee Tea. The intelligentsia (from Russian: [http://www.m w.com/dictionary/intelligentsia intelligentsia] on Merriam Webster Online]… …   Wikipedia

  • Intelligentsia — La intelligentsia[1] o, en caracteres castellanos, inteliguentsia (del Latín intelligentia) es una clase social compuesta por personas involucradas en complejas actividades mentales y creativas orientadas al desarrollo y la diseminación de la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • intelligentsia — Nowadays this term is loosely applied to any educated stratum of society normally including intellectuals and managers which has an interest in ideas. Historically, the use of the term has been more restricted, and although its origins are… …   Dictionary of sociology


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