Peasant Economy and Society

  • Gary Littlejohn


The considerable body of literature devoted to the peasantry, with its variety of definitions of the concept, has induced various writers (for example, Thorner, 1971) to attempt a definition of the peasantry based on a fairly comprehensive review of the relevant literature. Rather than ‘duplicate’ this work to provide yet another wide-ranging discussion, it is proposed to deal primarily with the work of a major theorist in this field, A. V. Chayanov,1 indicating where appropriate similarities in the work of other theorisits. While Chayanov’s work was an important weapon against the agrarian policies of the Bolsheviks (and for that reason was criticised by Stalin2), the main contemporary reason why his work deserves serious consideration is not simply that it has had a continuing influence on present-day sociologists who study the peasantry, notably Thorner (1962, 1966, 1971) and Shanin (1972),3 but primarily because his theory is a particularly clear example of the type of position which sets up the ‘peasant economy’ and ‘peasant society’ as distinctive forms of economy and society. Hence an analysis of the theoretical implications of his position is likely to be more illuminating than a discussion of a variety of positions, which runs the risk of concentrating on superficial differences between these positions.


Sociological Theory Land Price Land Prex Parcellated Land Commodity Production 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Littlejohn

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