Domestic Industries

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Domestic Industries


the production in a peasant household of finished products designed for personal use, made from raw materials provided by the household.

Domestic industries constitute a “necessary adjunct of natural economy” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, p. 328). Domestic industries came into being in the period of the primitive communal system; among most peoples they arose with the development of the principal branches of productive activity—agriculture and livestock breeding. The development of a particular domestic industry depended on local conditions and available raw materials. The earliest and most universal types of domestic industry were the processing of pelts and hides, the fashioning of objects out of wood and bark, and the making of felt. The weaving of various articles in the primitive period—ropes, baskets, nets, and containers—out of stalks, hair, fibers, and other raw material was the beginning of the development of the textile industry. Plaiting with fibers led to the development of spinning and, later, of weaving on primitive vertical and horizontal looms. Pottery production was of great economic importance and played an important role in the development of pictorial art.

Domestic industries were part of the economy of precapitalist modes of production, especially that of the feudal period. The combination of peasant domestic crafts with patriarchal (natural) agriculture was typical of the medieval economic system. Industry as an independent form of production did not yet exist; the articles that were crafted did not appear in the market but were used by the producers themselves. Only in the form of quitrent to landowners did these articles pass beyond the peasant household. In the period of developed feudalism, domestic industries were gradually transformed into artisan crafts, which, however, never completely replaced domestic industries. In destroying the natural economy capitalism also destroyed domestic industries, but even in this period vestiges of domestic industry almost always were preserved among the small peasant households. In Russia at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, domestic industries could still be found in areas remote from large industrial and trading centers. In the first few years after the Great October Revolution domestic industries were part of the patriarchal peasant economy, but they disappeared during the socialist reorganization of the countryside. Today domestic industries may be found in backward and developing countries—in some parts of Africa (especially the tropical regions) Sri Lanka, India, and Latin America.

A broader interpretation of domestic industry, regarding it as one form of artisan crafts, is sometimes encountered in historical literature, and this idea is linked with the conception of artisan crafts as small-scale industry.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., vol. 23, chap. 13, sec. 8.
Lenin, V. I. “Kustarnaia perepis’ 1894-95 goda v Permskoi gubernii i obshchie voprosy ’kustarnoi’ promyshlennosti.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2.
Lenin, V. I. “Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii.” Ibid., vol. 3.
Rybakov, V. A. Remesto drevnei Rusi. Moscow, 1948.
Polianskii, F. la. Gorodskoe remeslo i manufaktura v RossiiXVIII v. Moscow, 1960.
Khromov, P. A. Ekonomicheskoe razvitie Rossii: Ocherki ekonomiki Rossii s drevneishikh vremen do Velikoi Oktiabr’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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