Chapter 12 Peasants, inequality and progress in the research of Alexander Chayanov: Russia and the world
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Alexander Chayanov was not just a remarkable economist and sociologist researching the economy of the peasant household; he was also an original social thinker studying various issues of evolution and progress, differentiation and inequality in the Russian and international economy. He considered various alternatives and scenarios of social development, creating and analyzing different institutional models of social and economic systems using a comparative approach. In his postgraduate years, he took long-term intellectual trips to European countries, which helped him to formulate some fundamental research principles that he used to create his theories about peasant farming and agricultural cooperation. The First World War, the Revolution and Civil War in Russia undermined the overly optimistic belief in the one-line social progress characteristic of the early Chayanov. On the other hand, these events contributed to the formation of profoundly original and multidimensional optics of his subsequent social analysis of alternatives to rural development, both past and future. He attempted to analyze the possible interrelations between the so-called small and large forms of agricultural enterprise to be considered in the agricultural policy of Western countries and the USSR. Many principles of Chayanov’s thinking regarding alternative ways of progress and inequality between rural and urban development remain relevant to contemporary social research.

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