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CHAPTER VIII Social Structure and Social Institutions INTRODUCTION IN THE LAST CHAPTER, we began the consideration, of the interactive process between the village's social and political organization and externally generated forces as peasants in­ crease their outside relations. The actions of a significant minority in the village, we saw, bring changes for the entire community and greatly reduced the relatively fluid nature of the old social structure. This chapter continues the analysis of this interaction, showing that the nature of the relationships built with outsiders by the rest of the peasants, the non-inno­ vators, are in large part shaped by the earlier actions of the innovators and by the ecological limitations on the innovators. The outward-oriented village has a social structure and social institutions which relate to its past (who innovated first and under what conditions), as well as to the problems its mem­ bers currently face. THE POLARIZATION OF SOCIAL STRUCTURE There is an infinite variety of social structures that have emerged in rural areas as villages have increased their ex­ ternal relations. However, three basic and necessarily simpli­ fied patterns of stratification can be identified for analytic purposes. They differ in their degree of polarization and in the kinds of resources used as a basis for that polarization. They are: (1) the mechanized and extensive agriculture pat- SOCIAL STRUCTURE & INSTITUTIONS tern, (2) the intensive agriculture pattern, and (3) the mar­ ginal-land agriculture pattern. I ) T h e m e c h a n i z e d a n d e x t e n s i v e a g r i c u l t u r e p a t t e r n The results of the first pattern can be seen, in their most extreme variety, in pre-Industrial Revolution England. There, the enclosures of the newly business-conscious gentry changed radically the nature of the entire rural social system. Some of these landowners consolidated rural landholdings in order to engage in a more commercial agriculture, based on new levels of technology. Many others rented their lands to businessmen who would use these new methods. In effect, the introduction of large, commercialized farms spelled doom and eventual demise for the English peasantry. Law, wealth, and raw power were used to displace peasant agriculture for a type which increasingly relied more heavily on machine power than on manpower. It relied on capital intensity rather than labor intensity. The farms became huge, extensive tracts rather than small labor-intensive holdings. The resultant rural social structure, then, was one of ex­ treme polarization. On the one hand were the entrepreneurs who operated or rented out the large mechanized farms and on the other were the landless peasants too old, beaten, or set in their ways to migrate to the city. In the course of two centuries, most families made their way to urban areas, and those remaining became part of an impoverished rural pro­ letariat. In England, the peasants not only lost their land but also over time lost their role in the rural areas because of changes in farming methods. Little differentiation among the English peasants emerged, since few remained peasants. Such a demise of the peasantry need not be associated only with growing mechanization. The key to this pattern is the great economies of scale which make large holdings much more competitive than small, peasant-owned ones or ones parceled out to tenants.1 In the Caribbean islands, preindus1 See Arthur L. Stinchcombe's discussion of the "ranch" in "Agricul­ tural Enterprise and Rural Class Relations," in Political Development TRIUMPH OF OUTWARD-ORIENTED FORCES trial consolidation resulted in huge sugar plantations so that there were no (or few) small farms. The displaced white farmer was forced to emigrate from Barbados, for example, after the importation of cheap slave labor. Only those with no other alternatives of gaining income remained in the rural areas (in this case, the slaves and, later, the Negro freedmen ). They became part of a work force organized much differently from that in peasant agriculture. The stratifica­ tion pattern, as in England, was highly polarized. It was made up of rich plantation owners or managers and wretched slaves and freedmen, with no class of small, independent farmers or tenants.2 In recent decades, the British pattern has also begun to occur in parts of Asia and Latin America. For example, Hinderink and Kiray's study of four Turkish villages shows a similar, if less severe, pattern compared...

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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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