Methodological approaches to the study of Russian cooperation and “Theory and practice of cooperation” as an academic discipline
The article focuses on the theoretical and methodological problems encountered by the Russian scholars of cooperative organizations. The authors identify four basic methodological approaches to the cooperation phenomenon in the Russian academic tradition: (1) socio-reformist (or socio-ideological), (2) descriptive-monographic, and (3) economic-theoretical, with the first two being dominant. After a short discussion of the prospects and limitations of the theoretical studies of cooperatives as business organizations by Russian scholars, some of the distinguishing features of Russian cooperation thought are mentioned. Considering the features of the Russian cooperative thought, the authors found it useful to name the most prominent Russian researchers of cooperation who can be included in the ICA list of the world cooperative heritage. The authors pay special attention to the myth of the first Russian cooperative and the Decembrists as the first Russian cooperators. Unfortunately, this myth was officially recognized and determines the birthday of the cooperative movement in Russia. The article briefly discusses the contribution to cooperative thought made by Antsiferov, Bilimovich, Tugan-Baranovsky, Chayanov, and Totomianz. Special attention is paid to the scientific contribution of Emelianoff, almost unknown in modern Russia, and the fate of his ideas. Finally, the authors emphasize the particular importance of describing the transformations and the most important achievements of the Russian and foreign cooperative thought in the curriculum of the discipline “Theory and practice of cooperation”.