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Some Conventional Orthodoxies in the Study of Agrarian Change

Bates, Robert H. (1983) Some Conventional Orthodoxies in the Study of Agrarian Change. Social Science Working Paper, 458. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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The purpose of this paper is critically to review two major approaches to the analysis of agrarian societies and to do so in light of evidence taken from Africa. The first approach posits the existence of “natural” societies; the second, of “peasant” societies. Both approaches attribute psychological and institutional characteristics to these societies. When subject to exogenous shocks of intrusive political and economic forces, these attributes then generate characteristic patterns of change. The existence of such “precapitalist” societies is thus often invoked to account for patterns of change in contemporary rural societies. On the basis of African materials, this paper argues that these approaches are overly cultural. They are overly economist, undervaluing the importance of the state. Many of the so-called precapitalist features of these societies are themselves arguably products of their encounter with agents of capitalism. Moreover, many result from the efforts of states to secure domination and control over rural populations.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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Additional Information:Revised. Original dated to December 1982. I wish to thank Eleanor Searle and Philip Hoffman for their contributions to this manuscript. Published as Bates, Robert H. "Some conventional orthodoxies in the study of agrarian change." World Politics 36.2 (1984): 234-254.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Subject Keywords:Capitalism, Peasant class, Communities, Agricultural land, Villages, Peasant economy, Agrarian societies, Private land, Political power, Tribal land
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:458
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170926-143006088
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81846
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:26 Sep 2017 23:29
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:47

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