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1. the production of goods, esp by industrial processes
2. a manufactured product
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



capitalist enterprises based on the division of labor and manual artisan techniques. The manufacture stage is the second stage in the development of capitalist industry, after simple capitalist cooperation and preceding large-scale machine industry. Manufacture arose as the characteristic form of capitalist production in Western Europe in the mid-16th century and was dominant until the last third of the 18th century.

The preconditions for the emergence of manufacture were created by the growth of handicrafts and of commodity production and the resulting differentiation of small-scale commodity producers, the appearance of workshops with hired laborers, and the accumulation of monetary wealth as a result of the primitive accumulation of capital. Manufacture emerged in two ways: (1) the capitalist brought together in one shop many artisans of various specializations, through whose hands the product was to pass until its completion; (2) the capitalist gathered in a common workshop many artisans of the same specialty, each of whom continuously performed the same distinct operation.

The development of manufacture production involved three forms of manufacture: scattered, mixed, and centralized. In scattered manufacture, the entrepreneur—the owner of the capital—bought up and sold the product of independent artisans, supplying them with raw materials and the implements of production. In effect, the small-scale producer was cut off from the market, reduced to the status of a hired laborer who received wages but continued to toil in his own shop at home. Mixed manufacture combined certain operations in a centralized shop with work at home. As a rule such manufacture arose on the basis of domestic craft industry. The most developed form of manufacture was the centralized one, which brought hired workers (expropriated rural craftsmen, ruined artisans in cities, peasants) together in a single workshop. Often centralized manufacture was started up by the government.

Manufacture led to specialization of workers and the division of labor among them; thus it enhanced their productivity on the one hand while on the other it increased the level of exploitation of the worker, turning him into a “partial worker” (Marx) chained to one labor operation for his entire life.

The origin and development of manufacture in the economically developed countries of Western Europe signified the growth of capitalism, which accelerated the disintegration of feudalism. Manufacture over time replaced the feudally organized handicraft industry of the medieval guilds. The classical form of the development of manufacture occurred in England (16th-18th centuries), where all three forms became widespread, above all in the textile industry and the production of paper and glass; manufacture was most prominent in metalworking and shipbuilding. In Holland, manufacture spread everywhere in the 16th century, primarily in new branches and in industrial centers that were not bound by guild restrictions (wool weaving and rug-making; textile manufacture with the scattered system of domestic production). Manufacture often involved processing raw materials exported from the colonies. In France scattered manufacture arose in the 16th and 17th centuries on the base of the rural cloth and tanning industries; centralized manufacture emerged in book printing and metalworking, in which the production of luxury items was prominent. In the silk weaving industry mixed manufacture was encountered most frequently. In Germany, mixed manufacture arose in the early 17th century, but it did not develop further until the early 19th century because of the country’s general economic backwardness.

Thus manufacture involved comparatively large capitalist enterprises. But insofar as handicraft was its base, it did not have decisive advantages vis-à-vis small-scale production. V. I. Lenin characterized manufacture in the following way: “(1) it is based on hand production and on the existence of many small establishments; (2) it introduces division of labor between these establishments and develops it also within the workshop; (3) it places the merchant at the head of production, as is always the case in manufacture, which presupposes production on an extensive scale, and the wholesale purchase of raw material and marketing of the product; (4) it reduces those who work to the status of wage-workers engaged either in a master’s workshop or in their own homes” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 399). A characteristic feature of manufacture was the close link between commercial and industrial capital. The workers in manufacture did not yet form a distinct class: extreme heterogeneity and disconnectedness were characteristic.

Although manufacture did bring a considerable increase in the productivity of social labor, it did not extend to all social production. The existence of a multitude of small and very small industrial enterprises was characteristic of the manufacture period; work at home remained the unfailing companion of manufacture. Marx wrote: “At a given stage in its development the narrow technical basis on which manufacture rested came into conflict with requirements of production that were created by manufacture itself” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 381). Manufacture could not satisfy the enormous demand for goods for the growing domestic and foreign markets. Capitalist manufacture was historically progressive in nature, since it contributed to the further social division of labor, created the preconditions for large-scale industrial production (including simplification of many labor operations, improvement of labor implements, specialization of tools, and the employment of auxiliary machines and water power), and trained nuclei of skilled workers for the transition to the machine stage of capitalist production, which came as a result of the industrial revolution.


In Russia. Manufacture arose in Russia between the second half of the 17th and the first half of the 19th centuries. A characteristic feature of Russian manufacture was that it developed when the relations of feudal serfdom were predominant. Manufacture first arose in branches of industry whose products were in wide demand on the domestic and foreign markets (such as salt, distilled products, Russia leather). These same branches had the greatest number of manufactures in which capitalist relations prevailed. Certain historians do not consider the large enterprises of these branches to be manufactures. The majority of the manufactures arose with the active aid of the state. In the 17th century, manufactures were created with state aid primarily in metallurgy (the plants of A. Vinius, P. Marselis, and F. Akema). Even in the first quarter of the 18th century more than 100 such factories were started with state aid: in 1725, S. G. Strumilin counted 80 factories, of which 52 were in processing and 28 in the metallurgical industry.

As early as the 17th century, the government granted privileges to private entrepreneurs, and toward the 1720’s an entire system of encouraging enterprise in the branches of production required by the state took shape (financial subsidies, the transfer of factories established by the state to the hands of private owners, the supply of labor power through the binding of serfs to the factories, and government purchases of all or a substantial part of the output). Manufactures in metallurgy—the ukaznye factories—were almost completely serviced by the forced labor of “assigned” (pripisnye) peasants and other workers. The government also attached peasants to private manufactures, and in 1721 it permitted the owners of factories to purchase peasants.

From the second half of the 18th century to the first third of the 19th the number of capitalist factories increased, primarily in light industry, and employment rose. The percentage of free (nonserf) workers to total employment increased from 39.2 percent in 1767 to 47.9 percent in 1804 and to 54.4 percent in 1825. The crisis of manufacture based on forced labor dates to this period. The growth of manufacture was accompanied by the concentration of production and increased numbers of employees in large enterprises. In 1789 there were 633 workers employed in 226 factories in the village of Ivanovo; of this number 245 workers, or 40 percent, worked in seven large factories—3.1 percent of the total. In the textile industry, scattered manufacture predominated. The number of enterprises under the jurisdiction of the Manufacturing Collegium, and later under the Department of Manufacturing, increased. The number of capitalist factories in the cotton industry grew rapidly; the number of workers rose from 1,900 in 1799 to 90,500 in 1835, more than 90 percent of them nonserf. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, capitalist manufacture already dominated the silk and sailcloth industries. In the cloth industry, possessional factories (that is, private factories; from the Latin possessio, “ownership”) and, especially, votchina (estate) manufacture still dominated. They produced primarily cloth for the army. When needed, workers were drawn from among the estate serfs. The minerals industry remained the citadel of serf relations. At the turn of the 19th century, there were about 190 metallurgical plants in Russia. They were staffed by 44,600 serf craftsmen and about 30,000 nonserf workers. Auxiliary work was performed by assigned peasants (319,000 in all). These enterprises were concentrated in the Urals.

The development of manufacture in the 1830’s coincided with the beginning of the industrial revolution in Russia. The transition to the factory and mill began in the sugar beet industry and certain other branches from 1835 to 1860. The number of factories declined in a number of branches (printed cotton, writing paper). But in most branches of industry, manufacture continued to grow in this period, primarily at the expense of capitalist enterprises. By 1860, nonserf workers in factories of the manufacturing industry made up about 80 percent of the total number of workers. Forced labor predominated in ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy.

Forced labor was abolished in industry, including manufacture, after the peasant reform of 1861. Many of the manufactories grew into machine-based factories; those hand-work factories that remained became secondary in importance. In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, manufacture existed in many branches as adjuncts of factory work or as a form of organization of production called into being by a factory (for example, the weaving of bast mats, the making of paper boxes for packing). In branches lacking systems of machines (such as felting, the für trade, and the production of locks, samovars, and concertinas), the hand-work factory remained the highest form of the organization of production. Given the mixed economy of Russia, manufacture continued to be significant in many backward and outlying regions. It disappeared only after the Víctory of the October Revolution of 1917.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23.
Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii. In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.


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