Setting is the time and place of the work. It includes historical events and the cultural backdrop. In this case, you need to look at where the story took place. In Russia in the mid-1800's, there was a lot of social and economic unrest. People felt that Russia was left behind in the Industrial Revolution. It was more backward than Europe. Look at how this time and place impacts the characters. For example, everyone has high hopes for Bazarov, but in the end he is unsuccessful and dies as a result of an infection that could have been easily cured.