Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The End of Peasantries? Rethinking the Role of Peasantries in a World-Historical View

Vanhaute, Eric (2008): The End of Peasantries? Rethinking the Role of Peasantries in a World-Historical View. Published in: Review Fernand Braudal Center , Vol. 31, No. 1 (2008): pp. 39-59.

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Abstract

This tentative essay tries to understand today's concerns about the decay of the peasantries and the loss of food security on a massive scale within a long-term and global perspective. Guiding questions are: How to handle the local scale of the peasant with the global scale of societal transformations? How to define peasantries? How is the fate of peasantries linked to economic development and social inequality? What can new research on the success and decline of peasantries learn us? Understanding the old and new 'agrarian questions' calls for new historical knowledge of the role of peasantries within capitalist transformations. The existing knowledge is all to often deformed by a twofold myopia, the English Road to capitalist agriculture, and the European Experience of the dissolution of the peasantries within the industrial and post-industrial economies. Laying down the old premisses of westernized development reveals a different picture of a highly productive family based agriculture, promoting local and regional income and survival systems, and internalizing costs of production and reproduction, contrary to the dominant and ultimatelly dead end tendency within historical capitalism.

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