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Rural class differentiation in Nigeria: Theory and practice - a quantitative approach in the case of Nupeland


  • Kohnert, Dirk


The knowledge of social stratification within the peasantry is a decisive precondition of sustainable economic and political measures for an effective support of agricultural production in least developed countries. This is one of the reasons why also in Nigeria social scientist focus on the problem of rural social structures recently. Up to now it was considered uncontested truth that, although there is considerable social and economic differentiation between the so-called small peasants, there is no class formation within the West African peasantry. However, these conclusions may rather reflect misinterpretations of the class concept than the actual situation of the peasants. A critical review of common misinterpretations of the historic-materialist class concept lays the base for the proposition of a new methodology for an analysis of the Nupe peasantry and rural social spaces in Northern Nigeria. Applied to the results an empirical investigation of four Nupe villages in Northern Nigeria in 1976, the proposed model reveals the early stages of a rural capitalist development, notably among rice producing marsh farmers of Cis-Kaduna, despite barriers of the semi-feudal land tenure system still in vigour in Nupeland. Widespread assumptions on the predominance of social mobility as great social equalizer in Northern Nigeria are not backed by the available data.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohnert, Dirk, 1979. "Rural class differentiation in Nigeria: Theory and practice - a quantitative approach in the case of Nupeland," MPRA Paper 3669, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3669

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    rural development; class; land tenure; social differentiation; mobility; Nupe; Nigeria;

    JEL classification:

    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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