IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Productivity and Market Integration in American Communal Dairying, 1830-1875

  • John E. Murray

    (University of Toledo)

  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

In our late twentieth century experience, survival of an economy seems critically dependent on well established rights to private property and a return to labor that rewards greater effort. But that need not be so. History provides examples of micro-socialist economies that internally, at least, allow for little private property for participants and a constant return to labor that is independent of effort. Some such economies may even be termed 'successful,' if success is taken to mean survival over several generations. If these communities survived without conditions that are generally thought to be necessary for success, a question worth asking is how this occurred, for we can then shed some light on what really is necessary for economic survival. Addressing this issue emphasizes the critical role of time, for even if the microsocialist economies that we study here eventually became the merest shadow of their former selves, the fact that they did flourish for so long makes them a valuable counterexample, and hence, a phenomenon in need of explanation. We consider here the dairy industry of the Shakers, which was characterized by intensive efforts to increase productivity, in part through the use of market signals, but efforts that were also limited by the ideological goals of the community. The Shakers were (and are, but since it is the historical Shakers that concern this paper, the past tense will be used) a Christian communal group. Some of their distinctive beliefs included the existence of a male and female Godhead, from which followed sexual equality, and active communication between Believers (a Shaker term for members of the sect) and denizens of the spirit world. Practices of the Society (their official name is the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, the second appearing being in the body of their foundress, an illiterate Englishwoman named Ann Lee) included pacifism, celibacy, confession of sins to elders, and joint or communal ownership of the Society's assets. Each Shaker received the same return for his or her labor: room, board, clothing, and the experience of divine proximity in a community of like minded Believers (Stein 1992).

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/1997-01.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1997-01.

as
in new window

Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Nov 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Social Science History, Spring 1999, 23(1): 41-65.
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1997-01
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1997-01. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Francis Ahking)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.