An Economic History of Russia - Vol. 1

By James Mavor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE FACTORY SYSTEM IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

THE rise and development of the Possessional and Votchinal Factories have been described in the preceding chapter. Although the Possessional Factory originated in the eighteenth century, the term Possessional did not come into use in official documents until the beginning of the nineteenth.1 The course of development of the factory system during the nineteenth century is characterised by transformation of the factory from a place of bondage to a place where voluntary workers are employed and are paid wages according to a contract at least hypothetically free. This transformation proceeded very slowly prior to the Emancipation of the Peasants in 1861, when it received its final impetus. Only as it was accomplished did the Russian factory system assume the capitalistic form in vogue in Western Europe and in America.

The reluctance of the Russian peasant to engage in factory labour has become very manifest from the details which have been given in the two preceding chapters. This reluctance does not seem to have arisen solely from the conditions of the work, from the low scale of remuneration, or even from the obligatoriness of it per se, but rather from the circumstances that they liked to work in their own way and on their own account, and that factory labour took them from the fields and from the open air. It is more than likely that the inevitable confinement of the factory affected both their health and their temper, the latter being also specially taxed by constant supervision to which they were not accustomed. To enter a factory meant also the keeping of definite times and the learning of wholly new kinds of work, both of which were out of keeping with the normal activities of the peasant. That the work was inefficient, largely because it was done without interest, and

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1
Tugan-Baranovsky, op. cit., p. 105 n.

-522-

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