Is the “Peasantry” a Class?

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
Is the “Peasantry” a Class?

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A discussion of the peasantry in terms of class runs an uneasy course between the advocates of society as an organic unity and the prophets of conflict, revolution, and class war. This chapter argues against generalized views of peasantry as a uniform national class, and stresses the local and regional variability of peasant life. The emphasis on treating the peasant as a member of folk society and the emphasis on community and on folk society are a continuation of the French and German sociological concern with organic unity and order. Peasantries are always localized. They inhabit peripheries and semi-peripheries, and peripheries within peripheries. The homogeneity of the peasantry is really an urban illusion, an optical error induced when city people look down upon the rural mass beyond the urban portals. Furthermore, this study accentuates further possible sources of variability, and focuses on ecological variation and political denomination.

Keywords: peasantry; class; ecological variation; political denomination; regional variability

Chapter.  3186 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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