Theory

Round table “In memory of Teodor Shanin” // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 39-77.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-39-77

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On the final day of the Chayanov International Conference (October 22–23, 2020), the round table was held in memory of Teodor Shanin, a remarkable agrarian scientist and researcher of A.V. Chayanov’s legacy. The round table was dedicated to both the memory of Professor Shanin who passed away on February 4, 2020, and to his 90th birthday on October 29, 2020. More than 60 scientists and students from different regions of Russia and the world watched presentations of friends, colleagues, and students of Shanin at the round table held online due to the pandemic. The round table was opened by Professor Shulamit Ramon, the widow of Teodor Shanin, who spoke about the worldview dominants of his life and work, his intellectual connection with Russia. The British colleagues of Teodor Shanin—Professors Henry Bernstein, Mark Harrison and Judith Pallot—spoke about directions of the main academic research and discussions which started in the 1970s on social differentiation of the peasantry and referred to the ideological legacy of Lenin and Chayanov; Teodor Shanin made a huge contribution to these debates.
The French scholar Aleksey Berelovich focused on the features of Shanin as a political scientist and a brilliant analyst of the political processes of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Russian colleagues of Teodor Shanin—geographer A.I. Alekseev, historian V.V. Kondrashin, sociologists V.G. Vinogradsky, O.P. Fadeeva, I.E. Shteinberg, A.M. Nikulin, D.M. Rogozin, and A.A. Artamonov—shared their personal memories of Shanin and provided a comprehensive description of his interdisciplinary methodology of agricultural research. Agrarian scientists from South Africa—Boaventura Monjane and Ruth Hall, and India—Sima Purushotaman—emphasized the importance of Shanin’s legacy for the study of the peasant development in the regions of Africa and Asia. Most presentations stressed and analyzed the intellectual connection of Professor Shanin with the Russian agrarian research of Marxists, populists, and the Chayanov school. 

Shanin, peasantry, agrarian sociology, social differentiation, Russia, Marxism, populism, Chayanov 
Alekseev Alexander I., DSc (Geography), Professor, Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University. 119991, Moscow, Lenin Hills, 1.
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Alexander A. Artamonov, Leading Specialist, Center for Agrarian Studies of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 82, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119571.
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Berelowitch Alexis, University Paris—Sorbonne (Paris IV). France, Paris-5, Rue VictorCousin, 1.
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Bernstein Henry, Emeritus Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). London WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom.
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Fadeeva Olga P., PhD (Sociology), Leading Researcher, Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Prosp. Lavrentieva, 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   
Ruth Hall, Professor University of the Western Cape, X17, Bellville, 7535.
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Mark Harrison, Emeritus Professor, Department of Economics, University of Warwick. Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom.
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Viktor V. Kondrashin, DSc (History), Professor, Head of Center for Economic History, Institute of Russian History Russian Academy of Science. 117292, Moscow, D. Ul’yanova St., 19.
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Boaventura Monjane, Post-Doc, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
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Nikulin Alexander M., Head of the Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Judith Pallot, Emeritus Professor, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom.
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Seema Purushothaman, Professor, Azim Premji University Survey. 66, Burugunte village, Bikkanahalli main road, Sarjapura, 562125 Bengaluru.
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Shulamit Ramon, Professor, School of Health and Social Work, University of Hertfordshire. Hatfield AL10 9AB, United Kingdom.
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Rogozin Dmitry M., Senior Researcher, Institute of Social Analysis and Forecasting, Russian Presidential Academy for National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), 119034, Moscow, Prechistenskaya Nab., 11 bld.1.
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Ilya E. Shteinberg, PhD (Philosophy), Associate Professor, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education. Sretenka St., 29, Moscow, 127051, Russia.
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Vinogradsky Valery G., DSc (Philosophy), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp., 82.
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Bernstein H. Shanin, Chayanov and peasant studies of Russia and beyond // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 32-38.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-32-38

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This text is based on the presentation at the roundtable in memory of Teodor Shanin (Moscow, 23 October 2020) and on the recent author’s paper in press, which surveys Shanin’s work of the 1970s and 1980s. The author provides a guide to tracing Shanin’s main themes and issues. First, the family farm is usually if not invariably featured first in Shanin’s characterizations of peasants as a general or generic type. Second, Shanin sought explanations of peasant household reproduction in his model of ‘multidirectional and cyclical mobility’ against the ‘biological determinism’ linked to the organization-production school and against the ‘economic determinism’ of Marxists. Third, Shanin emphasized “life of a small community within which most of the peasant needs of social living and social reproduction can be met”, but he aimed to avoid a romantic view of the mir. Fourth, Shanin believed that “the definitions of peasantry, which view it as representing an aspect of the past surviving in the modern world, seem, on the whole, valid”, and that rural society can be understood in terms of labour and capital flows which are broader than agriculture. Fifth, Shanin wrote that the triple origins of Marx’s analytical thought suggested by Engels—German philosophy, French socialism and British political economy—should be supplemented by the Russian revolutionary populism. Sixth, Shanin argued that the concept of ‘peasant mode of production’ had too many heuristic limitations to be sustained. Finally, Shanin’s vision of an alternative to both capitalist development and the projects of Soviet style was firmly rooted in the legacy of Chayanov.

Shanin, Chayanov, peasant economy, organization-production school, populist, peasantry, peasant mode of production

Bernstein Henry, Professor Emeritus, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK; Adjunct Professor, School of Humanities and Development Studies, China Agricultural University, Beijing.
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Worobec С.D. The influences of A.V. Chayanov and Teodor Shanin on the English-language historiography of peasants in the Russian Empire // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 8-31.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-8-31

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In the 1980s, various influences were at play in producing a groundswell of interest in the Russian Empire’s peasantries, not least of which were the works of A.V. Chayanov and Teodor Shanin. The interdisciplinary social history movement, which eschewed traditional political history and its focus on elites, arose in the 1960s. The initial interest in biographies of Russian revolutionary men and women and histories of the nascent Russian working class and labor movement in order to explain the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were suddenly supplemented and eventually displaced by an avid interest in peasants. The article examines the conclusions that the first-wave of scholarship on the peasantries of the Russian Empire produced. It shows how the ideas of Chayanov and Shanin remained dominant but were challenged by archival sources, histories on the micro- and regional levels, and attention to household tensions, gender issues, craft production and non-agricultural trades, growing literacy, as well as out-migration and return migration. By the mid-1990s, it became impossible to talk about a generalized autarkic, insular, cohesive as well as egalitarian Russian peasant society with traditional mores and customs that rebelled spontaneously because of its immiseration. The post-structural turn had furthermore begun to chip away at the veracity of statistics produced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and to question depictions of peasants which tended to emphasize their dark, primitive, and seemingly backward nature. Although this turn almost dried up interest in Russian peasant studies, a steady stream of historical works began to appear again in the first decade of the twenty-first century. We now have a firmer grasp of an economically and socially differentiated peasantry, the contours of the normal political accommodation that peasants made with the state (instead of always resisting it), and peasants’ utilization of the legal system to challenge their neighbors and family members. Furthermore, we know how a moral economy operated between the state and its peasant taxpayers and how and why zemstvo statistics produced Chayanov’s brilliant model of the dominant middling peasant household. At the same time, the agency with which Chayanov and Shanin infused the peasants has taken center stage in historical analyses.

Chayanov, Shanin, peasantry, Russian empire, Russian peasant society, peasant household, peasant commune, traditional political history, post-structural turn, moral economy

Christine D. Worobec, Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, Northern Illinois University. 1425 W. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, IL 60115-2828.
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Afanasenkov V.O. Grain production in the provinces of Siberia (in the late 19th – early 20th centuries). On the relative indicators of yield statistics developed by the Central Statistical Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №3. P. 6-46.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-3-6-46

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The article considers the relative indicators of yield statistics developed by the Central Statistical Committee (CSC), based on the data from four Siberian provinces —Yenisei, Irkutsk, Tobolsk and Tomsk—for 1896–1913. The author analyzes food norms in the pre-revolutionary statistical literature and practice, and unifying coefficients for cereals, explains the need for such indicators, presents and examines the rows of per capita yields for each of the Siberian provinces. Based on the comparisons with the current statistics consisting of voluntary correspondents’ answers, the author questions the reliability of the CSC’s data. The article also considers the number of livestock in the Siberian provinces, possible methods and techniques for summing up the number of different types of livestock, and the fodder norms and sets presented in the literature. The author describes features of the production of basic feeds as recorded by the yield statistics of the CSC (potatoes, hay, straw, feed grain) and as calculated with the production indicators based on the CSC’s statistical data and expert estimates (cake, chaff). Yearly data on livestock and feed production is grouped into six-year periods, from which averages are calculated for comparison. The author provides several interpretations of the results related to the reliability of the CSC’s crop statistics and to the possibility of its use in further historical research.

agrarian history, per capita yields, Siberia, statistics of animal husbandry, yields statistics

Vladislav O. Afanasenkov, Junior Researcher, Research Laboratory of Economic and Social History, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Vernadskogo Prosp., 82, Moscow, 119571, Russia.
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Chayanov A.V. Main Ideas and Methods of Social Agronomy (Part 2) (Article of A.V. Chayanov) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №2. P. 6-55.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-2-6-55

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The second part of Chayanov’s book Main Ideas and Methods of Social Agronomy consists of chapters presenting the specific features of the Russian social-agronomic work among the peasantry. In the first chapters (published in the previous issue of the Russian Peasant Studies), Chayanov focused on the strategic and worldview aspects of social agronomy; in the second part, he analyzes tactical directions of social-agronomic work: methods of oral, social-agronomic propaganda; conversations, lectures, courses and agronomic consulting; agricultural exhibitions, demonstration plots, model farms and peasant excursions; agricultural warehouses, rental points and grain-cleaning stations; organizational work of the agronomist; social agronomy and cooperation; the equipment of the agronomic station; registration and evaluation of social-agronomic activities. In all these chapters, Chayanov shows how creative the work of the social agronomist should be, how many diverse and unexpected challenges he faces when interacting with peasant communities, audiences and households. The interaction of social agronomy with another influential institution—agricultural cooperation—is of particular interest. Chayanov analyzes in detail the contradictions and distinctions in the work of agronomists and cooperators, in their common tasks of developing and improving the peasant life. Despite the fact that the book was published a hundred years ago, it is not only of historical interest but presents many valuable answers and practical recommendations for the contemporary agricultural consulting and rural development activists.
The publication with comments was prepared by A.M. Nikulin.

social agronomy, peasants, agricultural education, agrarian reform, agricultural cooperation

Chayanov Alexander V.

Editor: Nikulin Alexander M., PhD (Economics), Head of the Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Head of the Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Translator: Trotsuk Irina V., DSc (Sociology), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Researcher, Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Vorbrugg A. Ethnographies of slow violence: Studying the effects of rural disintegration // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №1. P. 31-52.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-1-31-52

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The article considers the nexus of slow violence as a concept, research focus and problem—on the one hand, and the practices and politics of ethnographic fieldwork and writing—on the other hand. It highlights two aspects; first, the epistemological alliances between researchers and research participants which confront forms of violence that as if remain partly elusive to both sides; second, the multi-temporal ethnographies that work through drawn-out and complex timescapes of violence by tracing cross-temporal connections. The notions of fieldwork are still defined mainly in spatial terms, and so the issue of slow violence is an important reminder to pay more attention to the temporal dimension. The article demonstrates how rural dwellers make sense of complex changes and loss by using the ruins of disintegration as signifiers, and how researchers can draw on this in their analysis. It is based on the ethnographic research conducted in rural Russia which shows how the concept of slow violence helps to make sense of and to make visible the forms of loss and dispossession that often remain elusive in academic and public representations of the Russian countryside.

slow violence, multi-temporal ethnography, politics of representation, politics of fieldwork, rural Russia

Vorbrugg Alexander, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Geography, University of Bern (Switzerland). Hallerstr. 12, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.
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Translator: Trotsuk Irina V., DSc (Sociology), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Researcher, Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Chayanov A.V. Main Ideas and Methods of Social Agronomy (Part 1) (Article of A.V. Chayanov) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №1. P. 6-30.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-1-6-30

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The book by Alexander Chayanov Main Ideas and Methods of Social Agronomy is one of his key interdisciplinary works written and published at the beginning of the October Revolution and the Civil War. In this work, the economist Chayanov is a social philosopher considering the rural evolution as determined not only by the market and the state but mainly by the will and knowledge of rural households that can be led to the sustainable rural development by the organized public mind (a kind of a synonymous for civil society). Its most important social institution in the rural sphere is social agronomy. Chayanov emphasizes that social agronomy is one of the youngest social institutions. It appeared in the late 19th century in Europe and North America and in three decades turned into an influential movement uniting agrarian scientists, agrarian activists and a huge number of peasants striving for agricultural knowledge for more productive and cultural development of their households.
In this book, Chayanov is not only a social philosopher but also a social activist and organizer, teacher and psychologist. The book is based on his seminar, ‘Social Agronomy and Agricultural Cooperation’, which incorporated many years of personal communication with peasants, agronomists and agrarian scientists about dissemination and application of agrarian knowledge by peasants.
We publish the first five chapters of the book about the tasks and methods of social-agronomic work, its program and organization. For the contemporary reader, this publication is not only of historical interest. Chayanov’s ideas are still relevant for the effective interaction of professional agrarians with the rural population, peasants and farmers in the organization of agricultural knowledge, agricultural cooperatives and agricultural consulting. 
The publication with comments was prepared by A.M. Nikulin.

social agronomy, agricultural evolution, peasants, state, agrarian reforms, agrarian knowledge, agricultural cooperation

Chayanov Alexander V.

Editor: Nikulin Alexander M., PhD (Economics), Head of the Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Head of the Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Translator: Trotsuk Irina V., DSc (Sociology), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Researcher, Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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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

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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

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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Chayanov A.V. On differentiation of the peasant economy (Article of A.V. Chayanov) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2019. V.4. №4. P. 6-21.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2019-4-4-6-21

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This article by A.V. Chayanov was first published in the journal, “Paths of Agriculture” (1927, no. 5, pp. 101-21).This is a revised version of his report presented at the beginning of 1927 in Moscow at a discussion on the social-economic differentiation of the Soviet peasantry. Many prominent scientists participated in this discussion, including representatives of the two most important, ideological trends in Soviet agricultural science: on the one hand, Marxist agrarians (L.N. Kritsman, V.S. Nemchinov, Ya.A. Anisimov, I.D. Vermenichev, K.N. Naumov), and on the other hand, the so-called “agrarian neo-populists” (A.V. Chayanov, N.P. Makarov, A.N. Chelintsev).
In the report, Chayanov presents a new interpretation of the social-economic differentiation of the peasantry in Soviet Russia, which differs from the differentiation of the peasantry in pre-revolutionary Russia. According to Chayanov, after the destruction of the landlord and capitalist economies by revolution, the main reasons for the differentiation of the Soviet peasantry in the 1920s were regional contradictions in the peasant population distribution. On the one hand, peasants concentrated in the central, black earth regions, and on the other hand, they moved to the markets of sea ports and large cities. Chayanov argued that in this way, four types of relatively independent, family economies emerged from the mass of semi-subsistence peasant economies: farming, credit-usurious, commercial seasonal-working, and auxiliary economies.
Moreover, unlike the famous Marxist, three-element, agrarian scheme —“kulak– middle peasant–poor peasant”—which was developed by the school of L.N. Kritsman, Chayanov developed a more complex, six-element scheme of the differentiation of peasant economies: capitalist, semi-labor, well-to-do family-labor, poor family-labor, semi-proletarian, and proletarian. Based on this scheme, Chayanov suggested a number of economic policy steps for the systematic development of agricultural cooperation, primarily in the interests of the middle strata of the Soviet peasantry.
In the discussion of peasant differentiation in 1927, the arguments of Chayanov and his colleagues from the organization-production school were more convincing and justified than those of their opponents from the Marxist agrarians. However, in 1928, the Stalinist leadership began to inflate the threat of increasing class differentiation in the village. Thus, it initiated the struggle against the kulaks as a class, which became the prologue to forced collectivization during which Chayanov’s school was destroyed.
The publication with comments was prepared by A.M. Nikulin.

peasantry, agricultural regions, USSR, social-economic differentiation, Chayanov, agrarian Marxists, agricultural cooperation

Chayanov Alexander V.

Editor: Nikulin Alexander  M., PhD (Economics), Head of the Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Head of the Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Translator: Trotsuk Irina V., DSc (Sociology), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Researcher, Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Uleri F. Capitalism and the peasant mode of production: A Chayanovian analysis // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2019. V.4. №3. P. 43-60.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2019-4-3-43-60

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Although the disappearance of the peasantry under capitalism was repeatedly announced, peasants are still here, and the peasant mode of production still serves as a livelihood basis for millions of rural households. Based on Chayanov’s ideas, the article identifies some reasons for this resistance to capitalism by describing the internal functional logic of the peasant economy and the difference of the peasant mode of production from the capitalist one. The complexity and spatial-temporal variability of agricultural production and social-economic formations of the mature capitalism are replacing agriculture in the process of changes that consist of multiple transformations (Geels, 2002; van der Ploeg, 2008). One of the most debated agrarian changes is the trajectories of rural development under the persistence or dissolution of the peasant mode of production in the course of modernization that characterizes the evolution and consolidation of capitalist societies. The fate of the peasantry, or the “peasant question”, is the core part of the larger debate on the “agrarian question”, which the Marxist political economy defines as a set of agrarian transformations leading to the penetration of capitalist relations into agriculture and to the transfer from pre-capitalist, feudal or semi-feudal modes of production to capitalism (McMichael, 2006; Akram-Lodhi, Kay, 2010a; 2010b; Lerche, 2014). However today the empirical scenario is contrary to the Marxist perspective for the peasant mode of production expands and reappears in the repeasantization as a viable alternative to the capitalist agriculture (Domínguez, 2012; Corrado, 2013; Carrosio, 2014; van der Berg et al., 2018). The author presents an overview of the classical conceptualizations of the fate of the peasantry and explains “why peasants are still here” by the spatially and temporally contextualized analysis of the peasant economy in the microeconomic perspective with the help of the theory of peasant economy (TPE) proposed by Chayanov in the early 20th century.

peasantry, capitalism, Chayanov, capital, labor

Uleri Francesca, PhD Researcher, Agrisystem Doctoral School, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza (Italy).
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