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CHAPTER II Lord and Peasant INTRODUCTION PEASANTS have long been subservient to other social classes in society, and their relationship to these classes has often impelled peasants to limit their participation outside the vil­ lage. At times, these classes have been composed of rural lords who have governed the day-in and day-out activities of peasants.1 Communities where lords exercised such power were most commonly found in political systems in which the power was dispersed2—usually referred to as feudal states3 or patrimonial domains.4 In other instances there were no strong local lords in con­ trol. Rather, peasants had to adapt their behavior to power­ ful persons far removed from the village. In such cases bar­ riers against outside involvement were often posed by the peasant community itself, stemming from its relationship to 11 am combining two types of class relationships according to Arthur L. Stinchcombe's classification: the manor type and the tenant type. His distinction is an important one, but many of the pressures in the two types are very similar. "Agricultural Enterprise and Rural Class Relations," The American Journal of Sociology 67 (September 1961), 165-176. 2 See Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), p. 148. 3See Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class (New York: McGrawHill , 1939), pp. 8Off. 4See Eric R. Wolf, Peasants (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: PrenticeHall , 1966), p. 50. INWARD-ORIENTED VILLAGES the state and the insecurity it experienced in outside market participation. Freeholding communities posing such barriers were more often found in power-concentrated political sys­ tems (bureaucratic states or prebendal domains), but they could also exist in power-dispersed systems on marginal lands beyond the lord's control. Part One investigates these two sets of forces to which peasants and peasant communities have had to adapt in the past—forces which determined the degree of the peasants' external relations and their types of social organization. This chapter analyzes the first set of reasons, the relationship of lord and peasant.5 THE LORD'S BASIS OF POWER Where lords were powerful and controlled vital resources, it was they who enforced the peasants' inward-orientation, be­ cause it was outside the community that peasants might have found alternatives to the services they provided. For their part, peasants in such villages simply could not risk overinvolving themselves with outsiders for fear of losing what the lord supplied.6 What determined the extent of the lord's control? Why were some lords better able to enforce such restrictions than others? The degree to which a lord could keep peasants inwardoriented seems to have been dependent upon three inter­ related factors. First was the scope of the lord's services. The more scarce the resources that a lord controlled, the more difficult was it for peasants to risk seeking alternative means to secure those resources. Second was the primacy of the 5 Everett E. Hagen states that the core of the elite groups above peasants was typically an economically and politically strong class of landlords. On the Theory of Social Change: How Economic Growth Begins (Homewood, 111.: The Dorsey Press, 1962), p. 59. 6 On dependency relationships, see Peter M. Blau, Exchange and Power in Social Life (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1964), p. 116. LORD AND PEASANT services the lord performed: how important the elements that the lord controlled were to the peasant and his family. The more essential for survival—both objectively and subjectively determined—the resources he controlled, the more difficult was it for peasants to risk seeking alternatives.7 Third, was the degree of monopoly that the lord had over the services he provided. The fewer the available alternatives open to the peasant, the more likely was the lord to continue in firm control. These three factors—scope, primacy, and degree of monopoly—determine, then, the degree to which a lord could enforce restrictions on peasants' outside relations. At the same time, of course, these factors also determined the likelihood of the peasants' breaking from the relationship in order to establish ties with more specific outside groups which could perform the various services. The Latin American hacienda or latifundio historically presented the most extreme cases of powerful lords placing effective restrictions on peasants' outside participation. Vari­ ations of these forms were found outside Latin America in Asia as well. In effect, the lord of a hacienda controlled his own little society in which he defined and enforced the rights and duties of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400868766
MARC Record
OCLC
933516043
Pages
310
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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