Merl S. Agrarian transformations in the former GDR in 1989–2017: A success story? // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2017. V.2. №4. P. 130-147.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2017-2-4-130-147


The transformations of agriculture in the direction of privatization and adaptation to the market started in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Looking back from today, this was a difficult process for the economic transition was strongly influenced by changing prices and demand for agricultural goods. Today in most countries, agricultural productivity is higher though problems and uncertainties are still evident especially considering the structural changes of agricultural enterprises and their consequences for rural life. The article focuses on the country in which agrarian transformations seem to be a success story: in the GDR, the agricultural productivity grew significantly, and the new structures of the agricultural enterprises allowed competing at the world market. The author does not directly compare the former GDR and Russia though the article contributes to understanding the reasons of the problematic outcomes of the transition in Russia. The article highlights general problems of agrarian transformations such as the uncertainty of their structural aims, and puts forward the following questions: can the GDR be considered a success story transferable to other countries as the political approach in Germany was more sophisticated or is there another explanation of its success? Was the success a result of the political course, or was it, on the contrary, an unexpected result of the lack of control? Another question is the criteria for considering the transition in the GDR a success in the economic sense (increase in productivity), social (keeping up the rural community), ecological or agricultural (increase in sustainability of production). To answer these questions the author relies on the statistical data for more than two decades, monitoring data on the still ongoing transition and partly privatization and registration of new enterprises, his own studies of agricultural enterprises in different new countries together with the Russian colleagues (1992, 1997, 2002 and 2016), which allowed to understand the estimates and reactions of people to different challenges of the transition.


agrarian transformations, the former GDR (German New Countries), economic transition, agricultural production, rural communities

About the author

Merl Stephan, DSc (History), Professor, Bielefeld University; 25 Universitätsstr., 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.
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Kopoteva I.V. Civil society and civic engagement in rural Russia // Russian Peasant Studies. 2016. V.1. №1. P. 142-166

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2016-1-1-142-166


The article considers various approaches to the concept “civil society” (designed to serve the state, and therefore created on state initiative and with its support; a classical type of opposition to the government and business; Soviet-type organizations, a part of official and formal structures of the state and society), and discusses the possibilities to apply this concept to contemporary Russia. Although some scientists raise the question of whether or not there is a civil society in Russia, the author is interested in finding answers to other questions: what kind of civil society exists in Russia? Is there a rural civil society? If the answer to the last question is positive, then what are the in dicators of civil society — geography, target audience, registered social activity? The article considers examples of registered and unregistered public, non-profit organizations of different levels (federal level, e. g. ACCOR, and local level — e. g. women’s, sports and other clubs, veterans’ councils, action groups). The author discusses the criteria by which public organizations and initiative groups can be attributed to the rural civil society, and identifies two types of rural social organizations — the first possess political influence, the second focus on solving local problems by the local community members.


Civil society, state, civil participation, Russian society, rural communities, local initiatives, non-profit and non-governmental organizations.

About the author

Kopoteva Inna V., PhD (Geography), Senior Researcher at the Center for Agrarian Studies of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 82/5, Prospect Vernadskogo, Moscow, Russian Federation 119571.
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