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Serving Collective or Individual Interest? Flexibility and Elusiveness of Cooperatives in Tsarist and Early Soviet Russia (Workshop with Anna Safronova)

May 6, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Since capitalism is defined as private ownership of the means of production, 19th and 20th century socialists believed that the opposite would be collective ownership. Their projects proposed to extend the “collective” at the scale of the whole country. In the late tsarist Russia, advocates of cooperatives were proposing a different scope: that one of an enterprise. In the 1922 URSS Civil Code, a new form of property appeared: cooperative property. What did it mean and how its appearance was made possible? The paper being discussed at this workshop proposes to go beyond the binary oppositions of the private/collective by confronting the discourse analysis with the study of actual practices of the cooperatives on the ground in Russia, during the period of 1908 to 1930. It argues that because of their hybrid and fluid nature, allowing to serve both the individual and collective interest, one can better understand the cooperative property through the examination of power relationships between different social groups.

Anna Safronova is a PhD researcher at Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne University. She specializes in economic and social history of the Late Tsarist and Early Soviet period. She is currently a visiting fellow at the Harriman Institute. Her dissertation explores the cooperative movement in Russia, focusing on the Perm region. Her work has appeared in several journal and books (S’unir, travailler, résister : les associations ouvrières au XIXe siecle2021L’utopie au jour le jour Une histoire des expériences coopératives (XIXe-Xxe siècle), 2020 ; Hypothèses n°23, 2022). In Spring 2022, she will be a visiting fellow at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

Watch the event recording on YouTube here

Please reach out to jordan.russia.center@nyu.edu for a copy of the work being discussed at this event.


May 6, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


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