Differentiation: old controversies, new insights
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg
Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol.45, No.3, 2018
Abstract: There is a long-standing debate about the nature, impact and significance of processes of differentiation in driving agricultural development. This contribution discusses three ways in which such processes have been conceptualized: modernization theories that put markets centre stage, Marxist theories that focus on class, and Chayanovian approaches that highlight the dynamics within farming families. The empirical evidence for testing these concepts is normally derived from agricultural censuses. This paper uses a different database that covers all Dutch farms between 1980 and 2006 and enables us to follow the changes on individual farms. Examination of this data reveals that the actual processes of differentiation that have occurred in this 25-year period differ greatly from the classic conceptualizations. It also challenges the conventional wisdom that agricultural development is mostly driven by larger farms.
Keywords: class differentiation; market-driven differentiation; demographic differentiation; time series analysis; modernization; Dutch agriculture
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