‘Jan Douwe van der Ploeg combines long engagement in the empirical study of farming and farmers, and of alternative agricultures, in very different parts of the world, with a sophisticated analytical acumen and capacity to provoke in fruitful ways.’ Henry Bernstein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK ‘This book makes a timely and original contribution. The author revitalizes our interest in peasant societies through an in-depth examination of how rural populations in state systems respond to neo-liberal globalization.’ Robert E. Rhoades, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia, US ‘There is an increasing interest in this topic, especially as the author links the debate on the peasantry with Empire and Globalization. He has an excellent reputation in the field and is highly qualified to write this book, which draws on his extensive worldwide experience with the issues he discusses.’ Cristobal Kay, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands This book explores the position, role and significance of the peasantry in an era of globalization, particularly of the agrarian markets and food industries.
It argues that the peasant condition is characterized by a struggle for autonomy that finds expression in the creation and development of a self-governed resource base and associated forms of sustainable development. In this respect the peasant mode of farming fundamentally differs from entrepreneurial and corporate ways of farming.
The author demonstrates that the peasantries are far from waning. Instead, both industrialized and developing countries are witnessing complex and richly chequered processes of ‘re-peasantization’, with peasants now numbering over a billion worldwide. The author’s arguments are based on three longitudinal studies (in Peru, Italy and The Netherlands) that span 30 years and provide original and thought-provoking insights into rural and agrarian development processes. The book combines and integrates different bodies of literature: the rich traditions of peasant studies, development sociology, rural sociology, neo-institutional economics and the recently emerging debates on Empire.