Moisey Ostrogorsky

Moisey Ostrogorsky

Moisey Ostrogorsky (also Ostrogorski) (Hrodna, Belarus, 1854 - Petrograd, February 10, 1921) was a Belarusian political scientist, historian, jurist and sociologist. Alongside with Max Weber and Robert Michels, he is considered one of the founders of political sociology, especially in the field of theories about Party Systems and political parties.[1] As Ostrogorsky noted, loyalty to parties is often comparable to loyalty to one's religion. He was a member of the First State Duma of the Russian Empire in 1906-1907



Moisey Ostrogorsky, or Moisei Ostrogorski, studied law at Saint Petersburg State University and worked for the Russian justice ministry. In the 1880s he went to Paris and studied at the Free school of Political Sciences (Ecole libre de sciences politiques) where he wrote his dissertation Les origines du suffrage universel (The origins of universal suffrage) (1885). Whilst in France Ostrogorsky imbibed French political thought, which was distrustful of an all-powerful State, from thinkers such as Comte, Durkheim, Tocqueville, Saint Simon and Proudhon.[2].

He traveled to the United States and Great Britain. In 1902 he published Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties (originally in French), which compared the political system of the two nations. After returning to Russia in 1906, he became the Duma representative for the Grodno province. He left politics after the Duma was dissolved during the Russian Revolution.

As a political thinker, he was first recognized in the West, then in Russia. Ostrogorsky has been quite influential on the political thought of the 20th century.

After leaving politics he taught at the Psychoneurological institute in St. Petersburg.

Work on political science

Ostrogorsky's main work is La democratie et l'organisation des partis politiques [3]. He noted behavioural determinism in organisational structure - "As soon as a party, even if created for the noblest object perpetuates itself, it tends to degeneration", which influenced "the later researches of Max Weber, Robert Michels, and Andre Siegfried".[4].

Ostrogorsky is also the author of a book that is concerned with the equality of the sexes La Femme au point de vue du droit public [5].


As a lawyer:

  • The Legal Calendar (1876)
  • The Cassation practice for a year (1881)

As a historian:

  • Chronology of Russian history (1872)
  • Chronology of general and Russian history (1873)
  • Brief chronology of general and Russian history (1873)
  • History of Russia for national schools (1891)
  • The Textbook of Russian history for III class of grammar schools (1891)

As a political scientist:

  • The Rights of Women. A comparative study in history and legislation, 1893, ASIN B0017ATBZ2
  • (with James Bryce, and Frederick Clarke) Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties, 1902 (Translated from the French by F. Clarke), ASIN B0017AP8AE
  • La Démocratie et l'organisation des partis politiques, 1903, ASIN B0017GB4II
  • La Démocratie et l'organisation des partis politiques, 1912 (Nouvelle édition, refondue), ASIN B0017GEMIC

Further reading

  • Rodney Barker and Xenia Howard-Johnston. "The Politics and Political Ideas of Moisei Ostrogorski," Political Studies

Volume 23 Issue 4, pp 415–429, online from Wiley Interscience


  1. ^ Lipset (1982)
  2. ^ (Lipset, S.M. (1960). Political Man. Garden City, New York. p22)
  3. ^ (Paris, 1903; the English edition, London, 1903; vol, 2 appeared as Democracy and the Party System in the United States, New York, 1910; the new advanced edition of all works under the title La democratie et les partis politiques, "Democracy and Political Parties", Paris, 1912)
  4. ^ (Scheider, Theodor. (1962). The State and Society in Modern Times. London, England: Thomas Nelson and Sons, p84.)
  5. ^ (Paris, 1892, 2 English edition, London, 1908; German translation, Leipzig, 1897, the Polish translation, Warsaw, 1898)

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