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Economic Observation and Measurement in Russia before 1917: Surveying Typicalities and Sampling Totalities


  • Vincent Barnett


This article provides a case study of the development of observational methodology and techniques in a non-Western country. It does so by first considering various institutions of observation that existed in Russia across the nineteenth century, such as government statistical departments, the Imperial Free Economic Society, and the zemstvo. This is then followed by an analysis of debates that occurred over observational methodology between various Russian economists such as A. I. Chuprov, A. A. Chuprov, D. I. Mendeleev, and A. V. Chayanov, and a consideration of the use such observations were put to by others such as S. N. Prokopovich. The political ramifications of different observational practices are outlined, for example, by Marxists such as V. I. Lenin and M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky, and the link considered to exist by some economists between social and natural scientific techniques of observation is scrutinized.

Suggested Citation

  • Vincent Barnett, 2012. "Economic Observation and Measurement in Russia before 1917: Surveying Typicalities and Sampling Totalities," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 44(5), pages 46-70, Supplemen.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:44:y:2012:i:5:p:46-70

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Akhabbar, Amanar, 2013. "La Direction centrale de la statistique et la Balance de l’économie nationale de l’URSS en 1923—24
      [The Central Statistical Administration and the Balance of the National Economy of the USSR, 1923—
      ," MPRA Paper 61762, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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