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Artel (Russian: арте́ль) is a general term for various cooperative associations that existed in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union between 1860s through 1950s. The term eventually was phased away with the complete monopolization of economy by the state.
Historically, artels were semi-formal associations for various enterprises: fishing, mining, commerce, of loaders, loggers, thieves, beggars, etc. Often artels worked far from home and lived as a commune. Payment for job done was distributed according to verbal agreements, quite often in equal shares. Often artels were seasonal.
Gradually formalized types of artels emerged, with internal hierarchy and legal agreements.
In modern Russia there is no legally defined business term "artel" as a type of association; however, some companies use the word "artel" in their name, especially in areas traditionally handled by artels, such as gold mining and fishing.
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