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As Farming Developed, So Did Cooperation – And Violence

As Farming Developed, So Did Cooperation – And Violence

The growth of ancient farming / agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

A new study out today in Environmental Archaeology by collaborators from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University, and California State University, Sacramento examines the growth of agriculture in Eastern North America 7,500 to 5,000 years ago, and finds that while the domestication of plants fostered new cooperation among people, it also saw the rise of organized, intergroup violence.

Shift from Hunter-Gatherers to Ancient Farming

"We were interested in understanding why people would make the shift from hunting and gathering to ancient farming," says Elic Weitzel, a UConn Ph.D. student in anthropology. "Then I started to get interested in what happened in society after they made that shift and started farming on a larger scale."

Representation of early human hunter-gatherer, before the development of ancient farming. ( Gorodenkoff / Adobe stock)

The team used the "ideal free distribution" model to look at patterns of how individuals distribute themselves in an area, meaning places where people will begin occupying the best locations first. A number of factors make an area more suitable such as access to food, water, raw materials, and shelter. To measure suitability, the team looked at an indicator called "net primary productivity," which is a measure of available energy based on the plants in the area. In areas of higher net primary productivity, there were more people clustered together - and more conflict.

"If you are living in a suitable area, you can lay claim and keep others from accessing what you have. That becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as a whole group is at defending a territory," says Weitzel.

A growing population can decrease the suitability of a location over time, but that does not always mean declining quality of life. To study this, the team also took into consideration the concept known as Allee's Principle, which states that individual fitness, or likelihood of survival and reproduction, increases as the density of the population increases due to cooperative behaviors. Weitzel explains that for something like a crop of plants, they represent something valuable, and the value of cooperative behavior becomes apparent.

Corn farm in the sunshine. ( Smileus / Adobe stock)

Many Hands Make for Light Work

"The transition from a hunting and gathering society to an agricultural society is dependent on collaboration," says co-author Stephen Carmody, of Troy University. "The development of agriculture appears to only have happened in nine places around the world so Eastern North America is a unique part of the world to study. Agriculture was one of the most consequential transitions that happened in the past. It changed our whole economic situation."

Developments such as combined efforts for harvesting and defense, and possibly even sharing seeds among groups, could happen with interpersonal cooperation, which leads to greater chances of survival for the group.

As the saying goes, many hands make for lighter work and, Weitzel says, the research is about cooperation and competition at the same time.

Good Crops Led to Competition and Violence

"When a resource like domesticated crops is dense and predictable, that is when we expect that it would be defendable," he says. "Other groups may want access to your crop in case their crop failed, for example. There is cooperation and there are aspects of competition. Harvesting and defending."

Weitzel explains that this time period - 7,500 to 5,000 years ago - is not only when researchers found people aggregating and living cooperatively in high-quality locations, it is also when they saw an uptick in intergroup violence, as shown by skeletons showing the effects of "trophy-taking."

"Of course there are signs of violence throughout history, but trophy-taking is a different type of violence," Weitzel says. "The victor removes a part of the loser as a signal they won. They took scalps, hands, feet, heads - that first evidence appears to have happened at the same time as plant management."

Trophy-Taking Violence

This reflects the Allee Principle's limit: a point at which population density surpasses an optimum number, and suitability declines as a result.

"As the ideal free distribution and Allee effects predict, at a certain point, the benefits of cooperation start to wane, and you see dispersal again. There are incentives to be around other people, but not too many other people," says Weitzel.

After the spike in trophy-taking violence, there was a period of time when the populations dispersed once again, although populations still aggregated. During the dispersal period, researchers found a corresponding decrease in trophy-taking violence.

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Early Humans Help us Understand Present and Future

"We see a lot of things that look modern to us, for example social inequality and climate change ," Carmody says. "However, these are fundamental processes and large-scale issues. A lot of these issues tie back to the origin of agriculture."

By understanding early human interactions, Weitzel says this knowledge can help understand our present and even influence the way we think about the future.

"This is one of the ways archaeology is relevant to contemporary and future society," he says. "The modeling of human behaviors in society and our relationships can help us overcome current collective action problems. We are all better off if we cooperate."


As farming developed, so did cooperation — and violence

The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

A new study out today in Environmental Archaeology by collaborators from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University, and California State University, Sacramento examines the growth of agriculture in Eastern North America 7,500 to 5,000 years ago, and finds that while the domestication of plants fostered new cooperation among people, it also saw the rise of organized, intergroup violence.

"We were interested in understanding why people would make the shift from hunting and gathering to farming," says Elic Weitzel, a UConn Ph.D. student in anthropology. "Then I started to get interested in what happened in society after they made that shift and started farming on a larger scale."

The team used the "ideal free distribution" model to look at patterns of how individuals distribute themselves in an area, meaning places where people will begin occupying the best locations first. A number of factors make an area more suitable such as access to food, water, raw materials, and shelter. To measure suitability, the team looked at an indicator called "net primary productivity," which is a measure of available energy based on the plants in the area. In areas of higher net primary productivity, there were more people clustered together — and more conflict.

"If you are living in a suitable area, you can lay claim and keep others from accessing what you have. That becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as a whole group is at defending a territory," says Weitzel.

A growing population can decrease the suitability of a location over time, but that does not always mean declining quality of life. To study this, the team also took into consideration the concept known as Allee's Principle, which states that individual fitness, or likelihood of survival and reproduction, increases as the density of the population increases due to cooperative behaviors. Weitzel explains that for something like a crop of plants, they represent something valuable, and the value of cooperative behavior becomes apparent.

"The transition from a hunting and gathering society to an agricultural society is dependent on collaboration," says co-author Stephen Carmody, of Troy University. "The development of agriculture appears to only have happened in nine places around the world so Eastern North America is a unique part of the world to study. Agriculture was one of the most consequential transitions that happened in the past. It changed our whole economic situation."

Developments such as combined efforts for harvesting and defense, and possibly even sharing seeds among groups, could happen with interpersonal cooperation, which leads to greater chances of survival for the group.

As the saying goes, many hands make for lighter work and, Weitzel says, the research is about cooperation and competition at the same time.

"When a resource like domesticated crops is dense and predictable, that is when we expect that it would be defendable," he says. "Other groups may want access to your crop in case their crop failed, for example. There is cooperation and there are aspects of competition. Harvesting and defending."

Weitzel explains that this time period — 7,500 to 5,000 years ago — is not only when researchers found people aggregating and living cooperatively in high-quality locations, it is also when they saw an uptick in intergroup violence, as shown by skeletons showing the effects of "trophy-taking."

"Of course there are signs of violence throughout history, but trophy-taking is a different type of violence," Weitzel says. "The victor removes a part of the loser as a signal they won. They took scalps, hands, feet, heads — that first evidence appears to have happened at the same time as plant management."

This reflects the Allee Principle's limit: a point at which population density surpasses an optimum number, and suitability declines as a result.

"As the ideal free distribution and Allee effects predict, at a certain point, the benefits of cooperation start to wane and you see dispersal again. There are incentives to be around other people, but not too many other people," says Weitzel.

After the spike in trophy-taking violence, there was a period of time when the populations dispersed once again, although populations still aggregated. During the dispersal period, researchers found a corresponding decrease in trophy-taking violence.

"We see a lot of things that look modern to us, for example social inequality and climate change," Carmody says. "However, these are fundamental processes and large-scale issues. A lot of these issues tie back to the origin of agriculture."

By understanding early human interactions, Weitzel says this knowledge can help understand our present and even influence the way we think about the future.

"This is one of the ways archaeology is relevant to contemporary and future society," he says. "The modeling of human behaviors in society and our relationships can help us overcome current collective action problems. We are all better off if we cooperate."


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As Farming Developed, So Did Cooperation – And Violence

The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

A new study out today in Environmental Archaeology by collaborators from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University, and California State University, Sacramento examines the growth of agriculture in Eastern North America 7,500 to 5,000 years ago, and finds that while the domestication of plants fostered new cooperation among people, it also saw the rise of organized, intergroup violence.

“We were interested in understanding why people would make the shift from hunting and gathering to farming,” says Elic Weitzel, a UConn Ph.D. student in anthropology. “Then I started to get interested in what happened in society after they made that shift and started farming on a larger scale.”

The team used the “ideal free distribution” model to look at patterns of how individuals distribute themselves in an area, meaning places where people will begin occupying the best locations first. A number of factors make an area more suitable such as access to food, water, raw materials, and shelter. To measure suitability, the team looked at an indicator called “net primary productivity,” which is a measure of available energy based on the plants in the area. In areas of higher net primary productivity, there were more people clustered together &ndash and more conflict.

“If you are living in a suitable area, you can lay claim and keep others from accessing what you have. That becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as a whole group is at defending a territory,” says Weitzel.

A growing population can decrease the suitability of a location over time, but that does not always mean declining quality of life. To study this, the team also took into consideration the concept known as Allee’s Principle, which states that individual fitness, or likelihood of survival and reproduction, increases as the density of the population increases due to cooperative behaviors. Weitzel explains that for something like a crop of plants, they represent something valuable, and the value of cooperative behavior becomes apparent.

“The transition from a hunting and gathering society to an agricultural society is dependent on collaboration,” says co-author Stephen Carmody, of Troy University. “The development of agriculture appears to only have happened in nine places around the world so Eastern North America is a unique part of the world to study. Agriculture was one of the most consequential transitions that happened in the past. It changed our whole economic situation.”

Developments such as combined efforts for harvesting and defense, and possibly even sharing seeds among groups, could happen with interpersonal cooperation, which leads to greater chances of survival for the group.

As the saying goes, many hands make for lighter work and, Weitzel says, the research is about cooperation and competition at the same time.

“When a resource like domesticated crops is dense and predictable, that is when we expect that it would be defendable,” he says. “Other groups may want access to your crop in case their crop failed, for example. There is cooperation and there are aspects of competition. Harvesting and defending.”

Weitzel explains that this time period &ndash 7,500 to 5,000 years ago &ndash is not only when researchers found people aggregating and living cooperatively in high-quality locations, it is also when they saw an uptick in intergroup violence, as shown by skeletons showing the effects of “trophy-taking.”

“Of course there are signs of violence throughout history, but trophy-taking is a different type of violence,” Weitzel says. “The victor removes a part of the loser as a signal they won. They took scalps, hands, feet, heads – that first evidence appears to have happened at the same time as plant management.”

This reflects the Allee Principle’s limit: a point at which population density surpasses an optimum number, and suitability declines as a result.

“As the ideal free distribution and Allee effects predict, at a certain point, the benefits of cooperation start to wane and you see dispersal again. There are incentives to be around other people, but not too many other people,” says Weitzel.

After the spike in trophy-taking violence, there was a period of time when the populations dispersed once again, although populations still aggregated. During the dispersal period, researchers found a corresponding decrease in trophy-taking violence.

“We see a lot of things that look modern to us, for example social inequality and climate change,” Carmody says. “However, these are fundamental processes and large-scale issues. A lot of these issues tie back to the origin of agriculture.”

By understanding early human interactions, Weitzel says this knowledge can help understand our present and even influence the way we think about the future.

“This is one of the ways archaeology is relevant to contemporary and future society,” he says. “The modeling of human behaviors in society and our relationships can help us overcome current collective action problems. We are all better off if we cooperate.”


As farming developed, so did cooperation -- and violence

The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

A new study out today in Environmental Archaeology by collaborators from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University, and California State University, Sacramento examines the growth of agriculture in Eastern North America 7,500 to 5,000 years ago, and finds that while the domestication of plants fostered new cooperation among people, it also saw the rise of organized, intergroup violence.

"We were interested in understanding why people would make the shift from hunting and gathering to farming," says Elic Weitzel, a UConn Ph.D. student in anthropology. "Then I started to get interested in what happened in society after they made that shift and started farming on a larger scale."

The team used the "ideal free distribution" model to look at patterns of how individuals distribute themselves in an area, meaning places where people will begin occupying the best locations first. A number of factors make an area more suitable such as access to food, water, raw materials, and shelter. To measure suitability, the team looked at an indicator called "net primary productivity," which is a measure of available energy based on the plants in the area. In areas of higher net primary productivity, there were more people clustered together - and more conflict.

"If you are living in a suitable area, you can lay claim and keep others from accessing what you have. That becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as a whole group is at defending a territory," says Weitzel.

A growing population can decrease the suitability of a location over time, but that does not always mean declining quality of life. To study this, the team also took into consideration the concept known as Allee's Principle, which states that individual fitness, or likelihood of survival and reproduction, increases as the density of the population increases due to cooperative behaviors. Weitzel explains that for something like a crop of plants, they represent something valuable, and the value of cooperative behavior becomes apparent.

"The transition from a hunting and gathering society to an agricultural society is dependent on collaboration," says co-author Stephen Carmody, of Troy University. "The development of agriculture appears to only have happened in nine places around the world so Eastern North America is a unique part of the world to study. Agriculture was one of the most consequential transitions that happened in the past. It changed our whole economic situation."

Developments such as combined efforts for harvesting and defense, and possibly even sharing seeds among groups, could happen with interpersonal cooperation, which leads to greater chances of survival for the group.

As the saying goes, many hands make for lighter work and, Weitzel says, the research is about cooperation and competition at the same time.

"When a resource like domesticated crops is dense and predictable, that is when we expect that it would be defendable," he says. "Other groups may want access to your crop in case their crop failed, for example. There is cooperation and there are aspects of competition. Harvesting and defending."

Weitzel explains that this time period - 7,500 to 5,000 years ago - is not only when researchers found people aggregating and living cooperatively in high-quality locations, it is also when they saw an uptick in intergroup violence, as shown by skeletons showing the effects of "trophy-taking."

"Of course there are signs of violence throughout history, but trophy-taking is a different type of violence," Weitzel says. "The victor removes a part of the loser as a signal they won. They took scalps, hands, feet, heads - that first evidence appears to have happened at the same time as plant management."

This reflects the Allee Principle's limit: a point at which population density surpasses an optimum number, and suitability declines as a result.

"As the ideal free distribution and Allee effects predict, at a certain point, the benefits of cooperation start to wane and you see dispersal again. There are incentives to be around other people, but not too many other people," says Weitzel.

After the spike in trophy-taking violence, there was a period of time when the populations dispersed once again, although populations still aggregated. During the dispersal period, researchers found a corresponding decrease in trophy-taking violence.

"We see a lot of things that look modern to us, for example social inequality and climate change," Carmody says. "However, these are fundamental processes and large-scale issues. A lot of these issues tie back to the origin of agriculture."

By understanding early human interactions, Weitzel says this knowledge can help understand our present and even influence the way we think about the future.

"This is one of the ways archaeology is relevant to contemporary and future society," he says. "The modeling of human behaviors in society and our relationships can help us overcome current collective action problems. We are all better off if we cooperate."

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


The Development of Agriculture

The development of agricultural about 12,000 years ago changed the way humans lived. They switched from nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to permanent settlements and farming.

Social Studies, World History

This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Leveled by

Farming is a worldwide industry, and many immigrants carry their agricultural professions with them into their new homes, like this Polish farmer who immigrated to the United States in 1911 and established a dairy farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Photograph by Robert Madden

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less.

grass cultivated as a grain.

type of grain, including wheat.

large settlement with a high population density.

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.

the process of adapting wild plants or animals for human use.

very expressive or emotional.

change in heritable traits of a population over time.

land cultivated for crops, livestock, or both.

region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf.

fruit and tree native to Asia.

change to the genetic structure of an organism.

the gathering and collection of crops, including both plants and animals.

person who gets food by using a combination of hunting, fishing, and foraging.

animals raised for sale and profit.

to move from one place or activity to another.

imprecise term for countries in southwestern Asia, sometimes including Egypt.

2000 B.C.E.) last phase of the Stone Age, following the Mesolithic.

having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.

constant or lasting forever.

period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.

likely to change with the seasons.

large community, linked through similarities or relationships.

prehistoric period where human ancestors made and used stone tools, lasting from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 7000 BCE.

movement from one position to another.

most widely grown cereal in the world.

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Related Resources

Agricultural Communities

Agricultural communities developed approximately 10,000 years ago when humans began to domesticate plants and animals. By establishing domesticity, families and larger groups were able to build communities and transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle dependent on foraging and hunting for survival. Select from these resources to teach your students about agricultural communities.

Hunter-Gatherers

Hunter-gatherer cultures forage or hunt food from their environment. Often nomadic, this was the only way of life for humans until about 12,000 years ago when archaeologic studies show evidence of the emergence of agriculture. Human lifestyles began to change as groups formed permanent settlements and tended crops. There are still a few hunter-gatherer peoples today. Explore the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers in your classroom with these resources.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock.

Domestication

Domestication is the process of adapting wild plants and animals for human use

Doggerland - The Europe That Was

A map showing Doggerland, a region of northwest Europe home to Mesolithic people before sea level rose to inundate this area and create the Europe we are familiar with today.

Related Resources

Agricultural Communities

Agricultural communities developed approximately 10,000 years ago when humans began to domesticate plants and animals. By establishing domesticity, families and larger groups were able to build communities and transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle dependent on foraging and hunting for survival. Select from these resources to teach your students about agricultural communities.

Hunter-Gatherers

Hunter-gatherer cultures forage or hunt food from their environment. Often nomadic, this was the only way of life for humans until about 12,000 years ago when archaeologic studies show evidence of the emergence of agriculture. Human lifestyles began to change as groups formed permanent settlements and tended crops. There are still a few hunter-gatherer peoples today. Explore the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers in your classroom with these resources.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock.

Domestication

Domestication is the process of adapting wild plants and animals for human use

Doggerland - The Europe That Was

A map showing Doggerland, a region of northwest Europe home to Mesolithic people before sea level rose to inundate this area and create the Europe we are familiar with today.


As Farming Developed, So Did Cooperation – And Violence

The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

A new study out today in Environmental Archaeology by collaborators from UConn, the University of Utah, Troy University, and California State University, Sacramento examines the growth of agriculture in Eastern North America 7,500 to 5,000 years ago, and finds that while the domestication of plants fostered new cooperation among people, it also saw the rise of organized, intergroup violence.

The development of agriculture in Eastern North America led to large settlements of people – and also to violence.

&ldquoWe were interested in understanding why people would make the shift from hunting and gathering to farming,&rdquo says Elic Weitzel, a UConn Ph.D. student in anthropology. &ldquoThen I started to get interested in what happened in society after they made that shift and started farming on a larger scale.&rdquo

The team used the &ldquoideal free distribution&rdquo model to look at patterns of how individuals distribute themselves in an area, meaning places where people will begin occupying the best locations first. A number of factors make an area more suitable such as access to food, water, raw materials, and shelter. To measure suitability, the team looked at an indicator called &ldquonet primary productivity,&rdquo which is a measure of available energy based on the plants in the area. In areas of higher net primary productivity, there were more people clustered together &ndash and more conflict.

&ldquoIf you are living in a suitable area, you can lay claim and keep others from accessing what you have. That becomes a cooperative process, because one person is not as effective as a whole group is at defending a territory,&rdquo says Weitzel.

A growing population can decrease the suitability of a location over time, but that does not always mean declining quality of life. To study this, the team also took into consideration the concept known as Allee&rsquos Principle, which states that individual fitness, or likelihood of survival and reproduction, increases as the density of the population increases due to cooperative behaviors. Weitzel explains that for something like a crop of plants, they represent something valuable, and the value of cooperative behavior becomes apparent.

&ldquoThe transition from a hunting and gathering society to an agricultural society is dependent on collaboration,&rdquo says co-author Stephen Carmody, of Troy University. &ldquoThe development of agriculture appears to only have happened in nine places around the world so Eastern North America is a unique part of the world to study. Agriculture was one of the most consequential transitions that happened in the past. It changed our whole economic situation.&rdquo

Developments such as combined efforts for harvesting and defense, and possibly even sharing seeds among groups, could happen with interpersonal cooperation, which leads to greater chances of survival for the group.

As the saying goes, many hands make for lighter work and, Weitzel says, the research is about cooperation and competition at the same time.

&ldquoWhen a resource like domesticated crops is dense and predictable, that is when we expect that it would be defendable,&rdquo he says. &ldquoOther groups may want access to your crop in case their crop failed, for example. There is cooperation and there are aspects of competition. Harvesting and defending.&rdquo

Weitzel explains that this time period &ndash 7,500 to 5,000 years ago &ndash is not only when researchers found people aggregating and living cooperatively in high-quality locations, it is also when they saw an uptick in intergroup violence, as shown by skeletons showing the effects of &ldquotrophy-taking.&rdquo

&ldquoOf course there are signs of violence throughout history, but trophy-taking is a different type of violence,&rdquo Weitzel says. &ldquoThe victor removes a part of the loser as a signal they won. They took scalps, hands, feet, heads &ndash that first evidence appears to have happened at the same time as plant management.&rdquo

This reflects the Allee Principle&rsquos limit: a point at which population density surpasses an optimum number, and suitability declines as a result.

&ldquoAs the ideal free distribution and Allee effects predict, at a certain point, the benefits of cooperation start to wane and you see dispersal again. There are incentives to be around other people, but not too many other people,&rdquo says Weitzel.

After the spike in trophy-taking violence, there was a period of time when the populations dispersed once again, although populations still aggregated. During the dispersal period, researchers found a corresponding decrease in trophy-taking violence.

&ldquoWe see a lot of things that look modern to us, for example social inequality and climate change,&rdquo Carmody says. &ldquoHowever, these are fundamental processes and large-scale issues. A lot of these issues tie back to the origin of agriculture.&rdquo

By understanding early human interactions, Weitzel says this knowledge can help understand our present and even influence the way we think about the future.

&ldquoThis is one of the ways archaeology is relevant to contemporary and future society,&rdquo he says. &ldquoThe modeling of human behaviors in society and our relationships can help us overcome current collective action problems. We are all better off if we cooperate.&rdquo


Contents

The portmanteau колхоз , kolkhóz is a contraction of коллективное хозяйство , kollektívnoye khozyáystvo, 'collective farm'. [1] This Russian term was adopted into other languages as a loanword, however some other languages calqued equivalents from native roots, such as Ukrainian колгосп , kolhósp, from колективне господарство , kolektývne hospodárstvo, [2] Belarusian калгас , kalhas Estonian kolhoos Latvian kolhozs and Lithuanian kolūkis.

As a collective farm, a kolkhoz was legally organized as a production cooperative. The Standard Charter of a kolkhoz, which since the early 1930s had the force of law in the USSR, is a model of cooperative principles in print. It speaks of the kolkhoz as a "form of agricultural production cooperative of peasants that voluntarily unite for the main purpose of joint agricultural production based on [. ] collective labor". It asserts that "the kolkhoz is managed according to the principles of socialist self-management, democracy, and openness, with active participation of the members in decisions concerning all aspects of internal life". [3]

They imposed detailed work programs and nominated their preferred managerial candidates. [4] [5] Since the mid-1930s, the kolkhozes had been in effect an offshoot of the state sector (although notionally they continued to be owned by their members). Nevertheless, in locations with particularly good land or if it happened to have capable management, some kolkhozes accumulated substantial sums of money in their bank accounts. Subsequently, numerous kolkhozes were formally nationalized by changing their status to sovkhozes. The faint dividing lines between collective and state farms were obliterated almost totally in the late 1960s, when Khrushchev's administration authorized a guaranteed wage to kolkhoz members, similarly to sovkhoz employees. Essentially, his administration recognized their status as hired hands rather than authentic cooperative members. The guaranteed wage provision was incorporated in the 1969 version of the Standard Charter.

Work organization Edit

Brigade Edit

The question of internal organization was important in the new kolkhozes. The most basic measure was to divide the workforce into a number of groups, generally known as brigades, for working purposes. By July 1929 it was already normal practice for the large kolkhoz of 200–400 households to be divided into temporary or permanent work units of 15–30 households.' [6] The authorities gradually came down in favour of the fixed, combined brigade, that is the brigade with its personnel, land, equipment and draught horses fixed to it for the whole period of agricultural operations, and taking responsibility for all relevant tasks during that period. The brigade was headed by a brigade leader (brigadir). This was usually a local man (a few were women).

After the kolkhoz amalgamations of 1950 the territorial successor of the old village kolkhoz was the "complex brigade" (brigade of brigades), a sub-unit of the new enlarged kolkhoz.

Zveno Edit

Brigades could be subdivided into smaller units called zvenos (links) for carrying out some or all of their tasks.

See collectivisation in the USSR and agriculture in the Soviet Union for general discussion of Soviet agriculture.

In a kolkhoz, a member, called a kolkhoznik (Russian: колхо́зник , feminine form kolkhoznitsa, Russian: колхо́зница ), received a share of the farm's product and profit according to the number of days worked, whereas a sovkhoz employed salaried workers. In practice, most kolkhozy did not pay their "members" in cash at all. In 1946, 30 percent of kolkhozy paid no cash for labor at all, 10.6 paid no grain, and 73.2 percent paid 500 grams of grain or less per day worked. [7] In addition the kolkhoz was required to sell its grain crop and other products to the State at fixed prices. These were set by Soviet government very low, and the difference between what the State paid the farm and what the State charged consumers represented a major source of income for the Soviet government.

In 1948 the Soviet government charged wholesalers 335 rubles for 100 kilograms of rye, but paid the kolkhoz roughly 8 rubles. [8] Nor did such prices change much to keep up with inflation. Prices paid by the Soviet government hardly changed at all between 1929 and 1953, meaning that the State came to pay less than one half or even one third of the cost of production. [8]

Members of kolkhozy had the right to hold a small area of private land and some animals. The size of the private plot varied over the Soviet period, but was usually about 1 acre (0.40 ha). Before the Russian Revolution of 1917 a peasant with less than 13.5 acres (5.5 ha) was considered [ by whom? ] too poor to maintain a family. [9] However, the productivity of such plots is reflected in the fact that in 1938 3.9 percent of total sown land was in the form of private plots, but in 1937 those plots produced 21.5 percent of gross agriculture output. [10] Kolkhozniki had to do a minimum number of days work per year both on the kolkhoz and on other government work (such as road building). In one kolkhoz the requirements were a minimum of 130 days a year for each able-bodied adult and 50 days per boy aged between 12 and 16. That was distributed around the year according to the agricultural cycle. [11] If kolkhoz members did not perform the required minimum of work, the penalties could involve confiscation of the farmer's private plot, a trial in front of a People's Court that could result in three to eight months of hard labour on the kolkhoz or up to one year in a corrective labour camp. [12]

Kolkhozes and sovkhozes in the Soviet Union: number of farms, average size, and share in agricultural production

Year Number of kolkhozes Number of sovkhozes Kolkhoz size, ha Sovkhoz size, ha Share of kolkhozes Share of sovkhozes Share of households
1960 44,000 7,400 6,600 26,200 44% 18% 38%
1965 36,300 11,700 6,100 24,600 41% 24% 35%
1970 33,000 15,000 6,100 20,800 40% 28% 32%
1975 28,500 18,100 6,400 18,900 37% 31% 32%
1980 25,900 21,100 6,600 17,200 35% 36% 29%
1985 26,200 22,700 6,500 16,100 36% 36% 28%
1990 29,100 23,500 5,900 15,300 36% 38% 26%

Source: Statistical Yearbook of the USSR, various years, State Statistical Committee of the USSR, Moscow.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the former Soviet republics became target for criminal interests and the unstable financial situation undermined any perspective for their development. The general policy of transition from the Soviet centrally planned economy to a market economy was announced. The number of kolkhozes and sovkhozes declined rapidly after 1992, while other corporate forms gained in prominence.

Still, field surveys conducted in CIS countries in the 1990s generally indicated that, in the opinion of the members and the managers, many of the new corporate farms behaved and functioned for all practical reasons like the old kolkhozes. [13] Formal re-registration only "changed the sign on the door" and did not produce radical internal restructuring of the traditional Soviet farm.

Number of kolkhozes and all corporate farms in Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova 1990-2005

Russia Ukraine Moldova
Year Number of kolkhozes All corporate farms Number of kolkhozes All corporate farms Number of kolkhozes All corporate farms
1990 12,800 29,400 8,354 10,792 531 1,891
1995 5,522 26,874 450 10,914 490 1,232
2000 3,000 27,645 0 14,308 41 1,386
2005 2,000 22,135 0 17,671 4 1,846

  • For Russia, Agriculture in Russia, statistical yearbook, State Statistical Committee, Moscow, various years.
  • For Ukraine, Rethinking Agricultural Reform in Ukraine, IAMO, Halle, Germany.
  • For Moldova, land balance tables, State Land Cadastre Agency, Chisinau, various years.

Kolkhozes have disappeared almost completely in Transcaucasian and Central Asian states. In Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan the disappearance of the kolkhoz was part of an overall individualization of agriculture, with family farms displacing corporate farms in general. In Central Asian countries, some corporate farms persist, but no kolkhozes remain. Thus, in Turkmenistan, a presidential decree of June 1995 summarily "reorganized" all kolkhozes into "peasant associations" (Turkmen: daikhan berleshik ). [13] In Tajikistan, a presidential decree of October 1995 initiated a process of conversion of kolkhozes into share-based farms operating on leased land, agricultural production cooperatives, and dehkan (peasant) farms. [14] However, contrary to the practice in all other CIS countries, one-third of the 30,000 peasant farms in Tajikistan are organized as collective dehkan farms and not family farms. These collective dehkan farms are often referred to as "kolkhozy" in the vernacular, although legally they are a different organizational form and the number of "true" kolkhozes in Tajikistan today is less than 50. Similarly in Uzbekistan the 1998 Land Code renamed all kolkhozes and sovkhozes shirkats (Uzbek for agricultural cooperatives) and just five years later, in October 2003, the government's new strategy for land reform prescribed a sweeping reorientation from shirkats to peasant farms, which since then have virtually replaced all corporate farms.


As Farming Developed, So Did Cooperation – And Violence - History

One of the greatest achievements of the early Middle Ages was the emergence of the single-family farm as the basic unit of production. Villa owners, that is, former Roman patricians, were forced to settle their slaves on their own estates. The wreckage of the Roman Empire and with it, the decline of any form of centralized government, demanded such a development. This development often called manorialism or serfdom, marks the beginning of the European peasantry, a class or order of laborers who did not really disappear until quite recently. Before we turn our attention to serfdom or manorialism, it is necessary to highlight a few technological achievements of the period, roughly 500-1000.

By the 6th century a series of new farm implements began to make their appearance. The first development was the heavy plow which was needed to turn over the hard soil of northern Europe. The older "scratch" plow had crisscrossed the field with only slight penetration and required light, well-drained soils. The heavy plow or "moldboard" cut deep into the soil and turned it so that it formed a ridge, thus providing a natural drainage system. It also allowed the deep planting of seeds. The heavy plow, by eliminating the need for cross-plowing, also had the effect of changing the shape of fields in northern Europe from squarish to long and narrow. The old square shape of fields was inappropriate to the new plow -- to use it effectively all the lands of a village had to be reorganized into vast, fenceless open fields plowed in long narrow strips. This invited cooperation.

The only drawback as that it required an increased amount of animal power to draw it across the soil. So, a second innovation attempted to overcome this drawback: the introduction of teams of oxen. This became possible through the adoption of two pieces of technology known to the Romans: the rigid horse collar and the tandem harness. The rigid collar and tandem harness allowed teams to pull with equal strength and greater efficiency. And this invited cooperation as well for how many peasants can be said to have owned eight oxen, the number requisite to pull the heavy plow? If they wished to use this new piece of technology they would have to pool their teams. Added to this was the fact that each peasant might "own" and harvest fifty or sixty small strips scattered widely over the entire arable land of the village. The result was the growth of a powerful village council of peasants to settle disputes and to decide how the total collection of small strips ought to be managed. This was the essence of the manorial system as it operated in northern Europe.

Northern European farmers also began to experiment with the three-field system of crop rotation. Under the older, two-field system, the arable land was divided in half. One field was planted in the fall with winter wheat while the other field remained fallow. Under the three-field system, the same land would be divided into thirds. One field would be planted in the fall with winter wheat or rye and harvested in early summer. In late spring a second field planted with oats, barley, legumes or lentils , which were harvested in late summer. The third field would remain fallow. Such a system improved the arability of the soil since the tendency to overuse was greatly diminished. The importance of this cannot be overlooked. Without additional plowing, it would be possible for the land to yield more food. The increased amount of vegetable protein made available meant that European peasants might enjoy an improved level of nutrition. Lastly, the diversification into other crops such as oats, meant that horses could be fed properly. And the horse would eventually replace oxen as the preferred method of animal power.

These innovations in agricultural techniques -- medieval microchips, if you will -- were by no means the only ones to make their appearance during the early Middle Ages. Iron became increasingly utilized to make agricultural implements since it was more durable than wood. New farm implements were either discovered or refined such as the toothed harrow. There was also a startling incidence of windmills. All this meant greater food production and with much greater efficiency. These developments took place, gradually and regionally, on the medieval manor. The manor was the fundamental unit of economic, political and social organization. It was, furthermore, the only life the medieval serf or peasant ever knew. The manor was a tightly disciplined community of peasants organized collectively under the authority of a lord. Manors were usually divided into two parts: the demense defined the lord's land and was worked by the serf and then there were the small farms of the serfs themselves. There were also extensive common lands (held by men in common by the grace of God) used by the serfs for grazing, gleaning, hunting and fishing. The typical medieval manor also contained various workshops which manufactured clothes, shoes, tools and weapons. There were bakeries, wine presses and grist mills.

A lord controlled at least one manorial village and great lords might control hundreds. A small manor estate might contain a dozen families while larger estates might include fifty or sixty. The manorial village was never completely self-sufficient because salt, millstones or perhaps metalware were not available and had to be obtained from outside sources. However, the medieval manor did serve as a balanced economic setting. Peasants grew their grain and raised cattle, sheep, hogs and goats. There were blacksmiths, carpenters and stonemasons who built and repaired dwellings. The village priest cared for the souls of the inhabitants and it was up to the lord to defend the manor estate from outside attack.

When a manor was attacked by a rival lord, the peasants usually found protection inside the walls of their lord's house. By the 12th century, the lord's home had become in many cases, a well-fortified castle. Peasants generally lived, worked and died within the lord's estate and were buried in the village churchyard. The world of the medieval peasant was clearly the world and experience of the manor estate.

There was a complex set of personal relationships which defined the obligations between serf and lord. In return for security and the right to cultivate fields and to pass their holdings on to their sons, the serf had many obligations to their lord. As a result, the personal freedom of the serf was restricted in a number of ways. Bound to the land, they could not leave the manor without the lord's consent. Before a serf could marry, he had to gain the consent of the lord as well as pay a small fee. A lord could select a wife for his serf and force him to marry her. A serf who refused was ordered to pay a fine. In addition to working their own land, the serfs also had to work the land of their lords. The lord's land had to be harvested by the serfs before they could harvest their own land. Other services exacted by the lord included digging ditches, gathering firewood, building and repairing fences, and repairing roads and bridges. In general, more than half of a serf's workweek was devoted to rendering services to the lord. The serf also paid a variety of dues to the lord: the annual capitation or head tax (literally, a tax on existence), the taille (a tax on the serf's property), and the heriot (an inheritance tax). Lastly, medieval serfs paid a number of banalities which were taxes paid to use the lord's mills, ovens and presses.

The serf's existence was certainly a harsh one. The manor offered protection to the serfs, something desperately needed in this time of uncertainty. The manor also promoted group cooperation. How else could fifty serfs use a handful of oxen to plow their fields? They had to learn to work collectively for the collective good of the village community. The serf knew his place in medieval society and readily accepted it. So too did the medieval nobility and clergy. The medieval manor therefore sustained the three orders of medieval society: those who pray, those who fight, and those who work.

Literacy may have reached its lowest level on the manor estate but at least the serf was protected and secure.

Manorialism and feudalism presupposed a stable social order in which every individual knew their place. People believed that society functioned smoothly when individuals accepted their status and performed their proper roles. Consequently, a person's rights, duties, and relationship to the law depended on his or her ranking in the social order. To change position was to upset the delicate balance. No one, serfs included, should be deprived of the traditional rights associated with his or her rank in the medieval matrix. This arrangement was justified by the clergy:

God himself has willed that among men, some must be lords and some serfs, in such a fashion that the lords venerate and love God, and that the serfs love and venerate their lord following the word of the Apostle serfs obey your temporal lords with fear and trembling lords treat your serfs according to justice and equity.

In the high Middle Ages, the revival of an urban economy, the humanization of Christianity, the growth of universities and the emergence of centralized governments would undermine feudal and manorial relationships. Although the relationship of dependence remained, feudal institutions gradually disappeared.


About the author

Chandrika Kaul is lecturer in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. Her research interests include British press and political culture (1850-1950), the British imperial experience in South Asia, the Indian press and communications in world history. She is author of the first detailed examination of British press coverage of Indian affairs, Reporting the Raj: The British Press and India (2003). Kaul has also edited a collection of essays, Media and the British Empire (2006). Her forthcoming research project is a new history of India titled The Indian experience of the Raj.


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