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Peasants and the Art of Farming


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Timely presentation of Chayanov's theory of agriculture elaborating further balances of labour, consumption, drudgery and utility at the roots of peasant strategies of survival.Returning issues of choice into the centre of human knowledge about humans. Teodor Shanin, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences The author's grasp of theory, history, the empirical literature on peasants, and his own place-based research would all be remarkable in themselves; taken together, I marvel at the scope of his knowledge. The author's deep connection to farming in so many places, in both industrialized and developing countries, gives particular force to the power of his argumentation. Tony Weis, University of Western Ontario

Table of Contents

Prelims [ICAS Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies | Series Acknowledgements | Preface] 1 Peasants and Social Transformations The Political Relevance of Peasant Theory Peasant Agriculture and Capitalism What Makes Chayanov a "Genius"? A Proof of Pedigree 2 The Two Main Balances Identified by Chayanov The Peasant Unit of Production: No Wages, No Capital The Labour-Consumer Balance The Political Relevance of the Labour-Consumer Balance The Scientific Relevance of the Labour-Consumer Balance The Balance of Utility and Drudgery On "Subjective Evaluation" Self-Exploitation 3 A Wider Array of Interacting Balances The Balance between People and Living Nature The Balance of Production and Reproduction The Balance of Internal and External Resources The Balance of Autonomy and Dependence The Balance of Scale and Intensity (and the Emergence of Farming Styles) Fighting for Progress in an Adverse Environment By Way of Synthesis: The Peasant Farm A Final Note on Differentiation 4 The Position of Peasant Agriculture in the Wider Context Town-Countryside Relations as Mediated by Exchange Relations Town-Countryside Relations as Mediated by Migration Farming Versus the Processing and Marketing of Food State-Peasantry Relations The Balance of Agrarian Growth and Demographic Growth 5 Yields Current Mechanisms of Labour Driven Intensification The Significance and Reach of Labour Driven Intensification When Labour Driven Intensification is Blocked What Propels Labour Driven Intensification? Intensification and the Role of Agrarian Sciences Can Peasants Feed the World? 6 Repeasantization Processes and Expressions of Repeasantization Repeasantization in Western Europe: Resetting the Balances Back Matter [Glossary | References | Index]

About the Author

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg is a professor of rural sociology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and at China Agricultural University in Beijing.

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