Among the stated goals of the policy were the addressing of the relative economic backwardness of certain regions of the former Russian Empire, undoing the forced russification of oppressed nations under the Russian empire, and harmonizing the relationship between the nations of the Soviet Union by carrying the national and ethnic policies that would appeal to the wide masses of the local people in the ethnically non-Russian areas. Korenization implied the introduction of the local languages into all spheres of public life and usage of the local languages to the widest possible extent, particularly, in education, publishing, culture, and, most importantly, government and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Not only was the local cadre of the titular nations to be promoted at all levels but the ethnic Russians who served in the local governments were encouraged (or required) to learn the local culture. In most cases korenizatsiya was preceded by the delimitation of nationality-based borders for administrative and political units within the Soviet Union.
The nationalities policy was formulated by the Bolshevik party in 1913, four years before they came to power in Russia. Vladimir Lenin sent a young Joseph Stalin (himself a Georgian and therefore an ethnic minority member) to Vienna, which was a very ethnically diverse city due to its status as capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Stalin reported back to Moscow with his ideas for the policy. It was summarized in Stalin's pamphlet (his first scholarly publication), Marxism and the National Question (1913). Ironically Stalin would also be the major proponent of its eventual dismemberment and the reemergence of Russification.
Faced with the massive non-Russian opposition to his regime, Lenin in late 1919 convinced his associates their government had to stop the cultural administrative and linguistic policies it was following in the non-Russian republics. As adopted in 1923 korenizatziya involved teaching and administration in the language of the republic; and promoting non-Russians to positions of power in Republic administrations and the party, including for a time the creation of a special group of soviets called "natssoviety" (nationality councils) in their own "natsraiony" (nationality regions) based on concentrations of minorities within what were minority republics. For example, in Ukraine in the late 1920s there were even natssoviety for Russians and Estonians.
This policy was meant to partially reverse decades of Russification, or promotion of Russian identity culture and language in non-Russian territories that had taken place during the imperial period. It won over many previously anti-bolshevik non-Russians throughout the country. It also provoked hostility among some Russians and Russified non-Russians in non-Russian republics.
In 1920s, the society was still not "Socialist". There was animosity towards the Russians and towards other nationalities on the part of the Russians, but there were also conflicts and rivalries among other nationalities.