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


  • Vanhaute, Eric


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanhaute, Eric, 2008. "The End of Peasantries? Rethinking the Role of Peasantries in a World-Historical View," MPRA Paper 13291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13291

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vanhaute, Eric, 2009. "From famine to food crisis. What history can teach us about local and global subsistence crises," MPRA Paper 17630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Penelope Francks, 2011. "Understanding Japanese Rural History in a Comparative Context: from Surplus Labour to the Labour-Intensive Path of Development," Historia Agraria. Revista de Agricultura e Historia Rural, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria, issue 53, pages 73-95, april.

    More about this item


    Peasantries; depeasantization;

    JEL classification:

    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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