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Peasant Studies

According to Barrington Moore it is impossible to define the word peasantry in absolute precision because distinctions are blurred at the edges in social reality itself. Moore pointed out three features legal subordination, cultural distinctiveness and defacto possession of the land as signs of peasantry. In ‘Types of Latin American Peasantry’ a preliminary discussion by Eric R Wolf says that peasants are owners of the land but have no control over it. Robert Redfield defines peasant as one whose main occupation is agriculture for the subsistence production. Peasants possess certain characteristics based on economy and politics. Economic characteristics mean a system of small-scale producers with a simple technology with simply relying primarily upon their produce. Agriculture is the main source of income. Animal husbandry and wage labor is also another source of income. Peasants do not produce for profit. Political characteristics show that peasants are ruled by elites. They are subordinates of the upper class as they come in contact with great tradition and little tradition through village priests, literature and contact with urban religious centers. A peasant considers his land as his mother. Almost all the family members are involved in agricultural activities of a peasant. Robert Redfield therefore calls it part societies. These part societies are those village communities that have a culture of their own. Before independence, Indian agriculture faced lot of problems, as the yield and farming techniques were primitive. But after independence many changes came up where the farm produce has increased by manifolds as the subsistence produce has become capitalistic. The situation of peasants has undergone a change with the transformation in agriculture. The peasants have their own demands but they have no class solidarity. Kinship, neighborhood ties and caste alignments affect the allegiance of peasants to one faction to another.

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