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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(labor service, paying by work), in Russia, a system of land cultivation introduced during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries whereby peasants worked landlords’ land using their own implements in return for rented land (usually otrezki), loans of grain or cash, or forest products or to compensate for damage to fields by grazing livestock. Otrabotki took the form of ispol’shchina (land rent by paying half of the harvest) and izdol’shchina (sharecropping system). Under the otrabotki system, the remuneration for peasant labor was considerably less than that for “free” wage labor. Otrabotki represented a vestige of barshchina (corvée) farming.

Arising after the Peasant Reform of 1861, otrabotki became the basis for the otrabotki system of estate farming because of land hunger, oppressive taxation, and persisting noneconomic forms of compulsion. It retarded the development of technology both in peasant and in estate farming. As a rule, landlords (and often kulaks as well) combined otrabotki with the cultivation of land with their own implements and hired workers (the capitalist system). Approximate data indicate that during the 1890’s otrabotki predominated in 17 of the 43 provinces of European Russia, the capitalist system in 19, and the mixed system in seven. Otrabotki impoverished and ruined the peasantry, particularly the middle peasants, who were most intensively drawn into otrabotki relations. The disappearance of otrabotki began slowly in the late 19th century and continued into the early 20th century, especially during the Stolypin land reform. But V. I. Lenin’s observation was applicable even to the Stolypin period: “the main and fundamental cause of Russia’s agricultural backwardness, of the stagnation of the whole of the national economy … is the labor-service [otrabotki] system, that is, the direct survival of serfdom” (Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 17, p. 77).


Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii, Chapter 3.
“Perekhod zemlevladel’tsev ot barshchinnogo khoziaistva k kapitalisticheskomu.” Poln. sobr. soch. 5th ed., vol. 3.
Anfimov, A. M. Krupnoe pomeshchich’e khoziaistvo Evropeiskoi Rossii (konets XIX-nachalo XX v.). Moscow, 1969.


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