Peasant Household

Peasant Household

 

a family and labor association of persons engaged in agriculture together. The peasant household, which was associated with the obshchina (peasant commune), became a special social institution during the precapitalist period. With the penetration of capitalism into agriculture, the jointly owned property of the peasant household was replaced by the privately owned property of the head of the household.

The Peasant Reform of 1861 preserved the peasant household in Russia. However, with regard to household property, members did not enjoy equal rights of ownership. The head of the household represented the members, chose the means of working the land, rented or sold property, and decided which members might be sent away to work. Until 1906 members of peasant households could not go away, even temporarily, to other locali-ties to earn money without the permission of the head of the household. However, household members did have the right to appeal the actions of the head of the household in court, and they could ask the sel’skii skhod (village assembly) or the zemskii nachal’nik (land captain) for permission to divide the household. According to the Agrarian Reform of 1906 plots of land used by a household and either not belonging to the obshchina or allotted from its lands became the personal property of the head of the household, as did the plot of land by the farmhouse, in areas where the household worked only lands that belonged to the obshchina. Thus, the property rights of the heads of households were expanded.

After the Great October Revolution the peasant household was preserved as the most common form of land use among the peasants. Its legal status was consolidated in the 1922 Land Code of the RSFSR, which provided that the property of the peasant household was to be the common property of household members and that the household’s plot of land was to be used by all its members. In addition, all household members were given equal rights. (The head of the household became merely the spokesman for the household and could be replaced if the other members of the household demanded his removal.) Property relations, including the system of dividing the household or with-drawing from it, were regulated by the code. The land was given to the peasant household for its use without charge and in perpetuity. With the collectivization of agriculture, the peasant households became kolkhoz households.

After the consolidation of the kolkhoz system in the USSR, only individual peasant landowners who did not belong to the kolkhozes continued to have peasant households. The legal status of the peasant household is defined in the Constitution of the USSR, in the 1968 Principles of Land Legislation, and in the land codes of the Union republics. Under this legislation peasant households must rely on the personal labor of their members and cannot use hired workers.

G. S. BASHMAKOV

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