A Note on Chayanov and ‘The Theory of. Peasant Economy’. R. E. F. Smith* has asked us to insert the following note, in the interests of accuracy. In several. tendency of economic thought in the study of the Russian peasantry. By the s . The theory of peasant economy constructed by Chayanov and his school. Alexander Vasilevich Chayanov, the Russian agricultural economist published the essay ‘On the Theory of Non-Capitalist Economic Systems’.

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What resulted was a decline or stagnation of agriculture and chronic shortages of food supplies to which, beforeharsh repressions meted out to a resentful rural population should be added.

This makes his major project—what he called Social Agronomy—pertinent still.

The increase in labour intensity has definite physical limits; according to Chayanov, the family as a farm unit will increase labour intensity drudgery until the point when the net product is sufficient to meet the consumption needs of the workers and their dependants children, parents and grandparents.

Chayanov experimented with a unicausal demographic model, with a bicausal model of agricultural development defined by population density and market relations intensity, and so on.

Disciplinary languages and academic training tend to disregard the submerged assumptions on which they are based with the conclusions drawn taken to be either universally theorg or universally false. Understanding their innate dynamics as well as their interrelationships is of much use.

Alexander Chayanov

A decline in the significance and the particularity of peasantries leading to a parallel depeasantation tbeory the social sciences can be predicted, with Chayanov assigned eventually to the archives. Once one moves from the form to substance Chayanov is unacceptable o them: The reactions following its publication in were remarkably strong.

It economg not that, on the whole, those who succeeded or failed have studied him directly in Hungary or elsewhere. Chayanov proposed that peasants would work as hard as they needed in order to meet their subsistence needs, but had no incentive beyond those needs and therefore would slow and stop working once they were met.


He has been quoted admiringly but nobody has claimed his mantle while those called Neo-Populists have usually disclaimed such designation. Also, the tabular and visual representation of the data is remarkable.

The point is that an alternative general view, cross-cutting major conceptual divisions, adopts a different position. Chayanov was also one of the leaders of the field of factual studies of market relations, monetarization, and wage labor, and was remarkably realistic when the day-to-day life of the Russian peasantry was concerned. Beginning in the mids, Vladimir Megre ‘s Ringing Cedars series have many points in common with Chayanov.

The higher the ratio of dependents to workers in a household, the harder the workers have to work. In result, family farmers advance their global production as well as their share of land held and produce compared with the capitalist farmers-employers.

These views were sharply criticized by Joseph Stalin as “defence of the kulaks “. This process, however, is not a necessity. He learned from many sources but stayed his own man.

This blog post, it must be noted, is not an exhaustive survey of the essay and the book. Village-scale units were now combined with both multi-village and single family ones. He did not accept the view of some right-wing populists in the s that capitalism must fail to establish itself in poverty-ridden rural Russia.

Please help improve this article if you can. But, neoclassical microeconomics can perhaps explain certain features of the peasant farm, especially the trade-off between drudgery and well-being the backward bending labour supply curve is a good example. The substantivist Marshall Sahlins drew on Chayanov in his theory of the domestic mode of production, but later authors have argued that Chayanov’s use of neo-classical economics supports a formalist position.

While exploitive relations are preserved and enhanced, the functional organization of economy changes, extending rather than concealing those elements of it which call for modes of analysis alternative to those ordinarily in use. Also, the peasantry was increasingly being seen as a potential political actor—a subject of history. Between and he also wrote five Gothic stories which he published at his own expense under the pseudonyms Anthropologist A, Phytopathologist U, and Botanist Kh Russian: As stated, the misconceptions of Chayanov often played as important a conceptual role as the views he actually offered, and we have referred to a few of them.


Agrarian reformers of different persuasion have encountered and documented ever since the dangers of excessive speed and bureaucratic zest when the transformation of agriculture is involved. In the best style of Russian intelligentsia he was a very literate man: Furthermore, the peasant’s way of life is seen as ideologically [ citation needed ] opposed to capitalism in that the family work for a living, not for a profit.

Thus, any labor farm has a natural limit to its output, determined by the proportions between intensity of annual family labor and degree of satisfaction of its demands. Chayanov terms the returns from the enterprise as the net product.

Reflections on Chayanov’s The Theory of Peasant Economy | Undergraduate Economist

It corresponded with the work of the more imaginative economic historians of precapitalism, especially K. Those deported from their villages were permitted to come back and often to direct cooperative production.

Two recent sets of studies exemplify the relevance of peasant farm particularities and their interpretation in the light of the dominant usage of family labor. Its misconceptions were often as significant in effect as its illuminations. On October 3, Chayanov was arrested again, tried and shot the same day.