Центр Изучения Современности

Centre for Modernity Studies

Institutes of Russian rural societies in the end of the 19th century – following the observations of A.N. Engelhardt

Kroopkin P. L.


Using the description of the Russian rural society of A.N. Engelhardt, the article discusses the institutes that determined economic activities of peasants in the Smolensk region of Russia in the end of the 19th century. Peasants acting as economic agents showed themselves like very rational individualists. Peasants practiced their rationality being caused to manage a complex set of contractual obligations of different nature that accompanied their annual cycle of activities. Contractual discipline and permanent necessity of deliberation helped them in this. Such values as “be a farmer”, “do not make more of another” restricted them. The article interprets peasant’s opportunism as an element of the institute of property, stimulating agent to get rid of assets being not under control.


The governmental legislation was inconsistent with daily behavioral routines of peasants, giving rise to abuse, arbitrariness and violence of officials and landowners against peasant communes, and also to corruption.


A well-known institutional point: “collectivism is a basis for behavior patterns of Russians” did not received an actual confirmation.


Key words: Russian peasants, Economical Institutes, Individualism, Rationality, Collectivism, Property, Contracts, Opportunism, Values, A.N. Engelhardt


Text in Russian: http://modernity-centre.org/2010/12/01/kroopkin-121/


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