Wegren S., Trotsuk I.V. The paradoxes of smallholders in contemporary Russia // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2019. V.4. №4. P. 22-49.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2019-4-4-22-49


Contemporary Russian smallholders—lichnoe podsobnoe khoziaistvo (LPKh)—are characterized by a number of paradoxes. At the core of these paradoxes is that the role of LPKh in the agricultural system is changing and its future is uncertain. As agricultural production in Russia becomes more concentrated in fewer companies, as supply lines are strengthened, as regulation of sanitary and veterinary conditions become more comprehensive, and as Russian companies are more integrated to global markets, LPKh is falling behind on each dimension. Already in production decline, smallholders are likely to experience continued marginalization into the future. The prospects for reversal of marginalization are poor. It is difficult to see how smallholders’ downward drift in Russia, either relative or absolute, can be stopped. LPKh in Russia lack resiliency in that operators have few levers to mitigate the effects of an increasingly hostile economic environment or to reverse the restrictive policies that emanate from regional governments. Moreover, contemporary urban consumers do not depend on LPKh output as before and the sector does not help the state attain its goals, which means that the LPKh sector is not a priority. The Russian case adds to the development literature by showing a smallholder sector that is making progressively less contribution to economic growth. Further, smallholder-large farm relations are competitive in a way that smallholders cannot possibly win. The household sector will continue to produce food for self-provision but its contribution to local food supply is likely to decline.


Russia, smallholders, household plots, household gardens, post-soviet agriculture

About the authors

Wegren Stephen, Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University, Dallas (USA). P.O. Box 750333, Dallas, TX 75275-0333.
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Trotsuk Irina V., DSc (Sociology), Professor, Sociology Chair, RUDN University; Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Prosp. Vernadskogo, 82, Moscow, Russia, 119571.
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Nefedova T.G. Contemporary peasant economy in the rural-urban environment // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2018. V.3. №1. P. 117-140.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2018-3-1-117-140


The article considers features of contemporary Russian households under the concentration of large enterprises and polarization of the countryside. The author compares farms at the beginning and in the middle of the twentieth century to show that many factors determining the households’ life a century ago are still active. The article describes features of today’s small households and farmers and their main types; identifies their variety in the Non-Black Earth, southern and eastern regions, in the suburbs and on the periphery. Among the factors affecting activities of population in households, the author focuses on the degree of rural depopulation, rural ethnic composition, and interaction between households and large agricultural enterprises. Thus, inefficient enterprises were not replaced by small farms due to the gradual decrease of agricultural activities of rural population. There is a significant share of the unused land with an exception of some southern regions, which proves that land is not the key factor in enhancing agricultural activities of small farms. However, the agricultural land use of gardeners is very intensive except for the suburbs of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The greatest activity is typical for farms with high marketability, including “shadow farms”, and for subsistence households following peasant traditions and partially self-sufficient.


Peasant farm, agricultural enterprises, farmers, household plots, gardeners, land use, livestock.

About the authors

Nefedova Tatyana G., DSc (Geography), Chief Researcher, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences; 119017, Moscow, Staromonetny Per., 29.
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Russian Peasant Studies. Scientific journal

Center for Agrarian studies of the Russian Presidental Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

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