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Published August 2013 | public
Journal Article

Contract enforcement in Russian serf society, 1750-1860


This article examines questions about contract enforcement in the absence of formal legal institutions, using archival evidence for one particular rural society in pre-emancipation Russia. The evidence presented indicates that enforcement services provided by the local landlord made it possible for Russians from different socioeconomic and legal strata to engage in a wide variety of contractual transactions. However, this system had significant drawbacks in that the poorest serfs could not afford these services and no serf had recourse beyond his local estate.

Additional Information

© 2012 Economic History Society. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Issue published online: 1 Jul 2013; Article first published online: 11 Jul 2012; Date submitted 11 February 2011; Revised version submitted 24 December 2011; Accepted 21 February 2012. Thanks are owed to Chris Briggs, Tim Guinnane, Naomi Lamoreaux, Steven Nafziger, Sheilagh Ogilvie, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal for detailed comments on an earlier draft. I am also grateful for helpful suggestions from seminar participants at the University of Cambridge, the University of Western Ontario, the New Economic School in Moscow, and from three anonymous reviewers for this journal.

Additional details

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