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Regular version of the site

Article

Revived Archaic: “Scattered Manufactories” in Provincial Russia

Cahiers di Scienze Sociali. 2020. Vol. 8. No. 13. P. 31-57.

The authors discover and describe a new economic phenomenon in modern Russia, which they term “scattered (or dispersed) manufactories”. In provincial Russian towns people engage in cooperative economic activities, which in their form and substance are strikingly similar to pre-industrial manufacturing in Europe and Russia in the 14–18th centuries. Such "scattered manufactories" are a post-archaic economic institution, in which industrial relations have a similar organization to guilds in Europe and artels in Russia. Such manufactories in five towns are described and analyzed in this article. The qualitative sociological methodology was used: the main methods are focused in-deep interview and observation the all stages of production and market processes in each craft merchandises. In a comparative context, including a description of all stages of the production chain, four types of manufactories are described. The main features of modern "scattered manufactories" are revealed, that making them similar to the ancient pre-capitalist and pre-industrial manufactories in Europe. The author's concept of the emergence of scattered manufactories de-novo in Russia is proposed. The concept is based on the uniqueness of the local resource and / or local technology. This makes such production competitive in the context of the prevalence of cheap mass production of goods. The authors argue that "scattered manufactories" are very common nowadays, and are highly likely to be found in other local communities, particularly in ones that enjoy accessing to unique natural resources and / or having a specific tradition in craft. All of  "scattered entrepreneurships" represent the informal sector of local economies and exist outside the legal framework and outside the official local economy, controlled by state authority. The roots of their informal nature are traced back to the economic crisis of the 1990s, the general underdevelopment of local labor markets, and a generally high tolerance to rule evasion and informal relations in Russia. Another reason is the currently excessive state regulatory impact and fiscal pressure targeting small entrepreneurship and self-employment in Russia.