Russian farmers have faced not only the general political and economic trials of their country but also the dismantling of their principal social service provider—the large-scale collective farm, which in the Soviet period furnished employment, housing, health care, day care, and education.

The obvious alternative, local government, is practically starting from scratch, since under the Soviet system it functioned mainly to collect statistics on the performance of the farms. Farm employees have become farm shareholders, but without the organizational and material support from the central government that once sustained life.

Rural Reform in Post-Soviet Russia reviews the resulting change through historical, political, sociological, and anthropological investigation into Russia’s agricultural and rural life. U.S. and Russian scholars describe the nascent land market, the growth in family-based entreprise, the changing roles of large-scale farm managers, and the creation of new networks of help and advantage. The public and private, formal and informal efforts they examine are shaping new ways of life whose final shape is yet uncertain.

David J. O’Brien is a professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri–Columbia. Stephen K. Wegren is an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.



Introduction: Adaptation and Change: Old Problems, New Approaches
Stephen K. Wegren and David J. O’Brien

Part I. Adaptation of Russian Agriculture to a Market Economy
1. Entrepreneurship and the Siberian Peasant Commune in Late Imperial Russia
Igor V. Volgine
2. The Impact of Land Reform on the Rural Population
Zvi Lerman
3. Spatial Contrasts and the Potential for Agricultural Revival
Grigory Ioffe and Tatyana Nefedova
4. Change in Land Relations: The Russian Land Market
Stephen K. Wegren and Vladimir R. Belen’kiy
5. Rural Household Behavior, 1991–2001
Valeri V. Patsiorkovski

Part II. Sources and Nature of Opposition to Change
6. The Cultural Dimension: Social Organization and the Metaphysics of Exchange
Margaret L. Paxon
7. Contemporary Agrarian Reforms in a Russian Historical Context
David A. J. Macey
8. Human Capital and Income Inequality
Dennis J. Donahue
9. Communal Coherence and Barriers to Reform
Liesl L. Gambold Miller
10. The Ethnic Dimension of Adaptation and Change
Christopher Marsh and James W. Warhola 
11. What Turns the Kolkhoz into a Firm? Regional Polities and Elasticity of Budget Contraint
Maria Amelina
12. Reorganization and Its Discontents: A Case Study in Voronezh Oblast
Jessica Allina-Pisano

Part III. Household and Village Adaptation to Change
13. Adapting to Neglect: The Russian Peasant in the 1990s
Ethel Dunn
14. Entrepreneurial Adaptations of Rural Households: Production, Sales, and Income
David J. O’Brien
15. Adaptation Strategies of Agricultural Enterprises during Transformation
Zemfira Kalugina
16. How Much Does Informal Support Matter? The Effect of Personal Networks on Subjective Evaluation of Life
Larry D. Dershem

Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here? Building Sustainable Rural Communities
David J. O’Brien and Stephen K. Wegren


“An important collection on the rural economy and society in the Russian transition with contributions by leading scholars.”—Carol Scott Leonard, Agricultural History Review

“This valuable book provides a penetrating analysis of the problems encountered in attempting to change age-old habits.”—Martin McCauley, Slavic Review

Rural Reform in Post-Soviet Russia will fill a major need as a work that reviews the full range of changes in post-Soviet rural Russia, integrating discussion of economic, social, and political factors. The social dimensions of change in rural Russia have been particularly neglected by Western (and most Russian) scholars in recent years. The editors have done an excellent job of assembling contributors of outstanding ability, whose works complement each other very well.”—Alfred Evans, professor of political science, California State University, Fresno

“The book presents a range of important contributions by both distinguished and younger scholars, and it includes original research on Russian agrarian reform. From differing viewpoints of a variety of disciplines, the authors have a common language in terms that generalists and specialists will understand. There is little question that specialists in transition will find many chapters in this book outstanding and that generalists will find the contribution of the whole highly useful.”—Carol Leonard, university lecturer in regional studies of the post-communist states, faculty fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford