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Peasants, Politics and Revolution: Pressures Toward Political and Social Change in the Third World

Peasants, Politics and Revolution: Pressures Toward Political and Social Change in the Third World

Joel S. Migdal
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 310
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    Peasants, Politics and Revolution: Pressures Toward Political and Social Change in the Third World
    Book Description:

    During the last quarter century, peasant participation in politics has increased markedly in parts of Latin America and Asia. Why the poor and vulnerable peasant population has chosen to leave the confines of the village for political activity and at times for sustained revolution is the question this book explores.

    The author draws on informal interviews and observation of peasants in Mexico and India and on fifty-one community studies of peasants in Asia and Latin America compiled by ethnographers in the last forty years. He suggests that severe economic crises have driven peasants to roles in the larger economy outside the village, where they are initially attracted to politics by material incentives.

    Originally published in 1977.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6876-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    J. S. M.
  4. CHAPTER I Introduction: Why Peasants Change
    (pp. 3-30)

    Oxen lie listlessly in the dung and mud, and tall stalks of corn stand in the fields of Coyotopec, probably much as they grew years before. Only the occasional passing of a car on the highway dissecting the village or a radio blaring in the distance makes the bustle of far-off Mexico City seem real. The state of Oaxaca has not shared in much of the phenomenal economic growth that Mexico City and northwestern Mexico have undergone; the contrast is stark, and life in a Oaxacan village seems, on the surface, relatively undisturbed from that of centuries past.

    Coyotopec never...

  5. PART ONE The Historical Domination of Inward-Oriented Forces

    • CHAPTER II Lord and Peasant
      (pp. 33-45)

      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 village. 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 control. Rather, peasants had to adapt their behavior to powerful persons far removed from...

    • CHAPTER III The Freeholding Village
      (pp. 46-59)

      Even when there were no lords in the village or when the lords were weak, there often still was only very limited outside involvement by peasants. Freeholding villages often had very little interchange of goods and services and manpower with the larger society. The food and handicrafts consumed in the village were produced by the consumers themselves or by other nearby villagers. Goods produced in the countryside, in many cases, reached centers only through the single strand of the tax collector.

      Such villages, frequently existing on land marginal in both quality and location,¹ did not experience the same types of...

    • CHAPTER IV Mechanisms of Survival
      (pp. 60-84)

      The previous chapter, focusing on the economic and political relationship between the peasantry and the classes above them, analyzed the reasonswhyfreeholding communities were inward-oriented. What still remains to be explained ishowfreeholding communities were able to enforce this minimization of outside ties, the inward-orientation. Unlike the situation in which a lord could call on outsiders or use his control of vital resources to apply sanctions, freeholding villages were composed of people much more equal in resources and power.

      This chapter explores the question of how such communities were able to prevent specific peasants from using a momentary...

  6. PART TWO The Fulcrum Shifts:: The Challenge of Outward-Oriented Forces

    • CHAPTER V Villages Under Stress
      (pp. 87-111)

      Despite the sanctions and other obstacles restricting outside involvement, there has been a worldwide movement of peasant communities in the last century and a half from the low to the high end of the scale of external relations. Peasants have been forging new, complex relationships with strangers outside the bounds of the village. Increasingly, peasants have become more involved with and dependent on the multiplier mechanisms: markets, cash, and wage labor. The changes have extended beyond the social and economic realm and have affected peasants’ politics as well. To understand these social and economic changes and new political orientations among...

    • CHAPTER VI Relieving the Stress
      (pp. 112-130)

      Villages which had been controlled by strong and vigilant lords faced an uncharted course once the power of the lords eroded. The social organization of such villages had been built primarily on the separate dyadic ties between the lord and each of the peasant households. After patron withdrawal, the peasants were left without long-established and complex patterns of mutual interaction and cooperation to meet the needs that transcended the household level. These needs had previously been most often satisfied by the lord.

      This lack of elaborate institutions and mechanisms among those peasants also meant that they did not experience community...

  7. PART THREE The Triumph of Outward-Oriented Forces

    • CHAPTER VII Who Risks Change?
      (pp. 133-155)

      The analysis in this book has viewed certain inward-oriented peasant villages as effective political and social units. As such, the local community delimited the actions of the individual. The peasant was a person within a polity which had a system of justice and a distribution of values, not at all identical with those of society as a whole. The community had norms and sanctions which made the peasant, whatever his resources, less than an unimpeded actor. The community, then, is a key intervening variable when one attempts to assess who innovates, when, and how.

      Each village’s particular social and political...

    • CHAPTER VIII Social Structure and Social Institutions
      (pp. 156-190)

      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 increase 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-innovators, are in large part shaped by the earlier actions of the innovators and by the ecological...

  8. PART FOUR Politics and Revolution

    • CHAPTER IX The New Political Community
      (pp. 193-225)

      Villages which had restricted their peasants’ market relations outside the immediate community or the local marketing area did so as an adaptation to the threats posed by the classes above. Political relationships with outsiders also were severely circumscribed. Payment of taxes, service in the lord’s private army, acceptance of protection from the state against the encroachment of others were a few of the limited political interchanges between peasants and those in other classes. And even in many of these circumstances, the peasants usually dealt with outside institutions through the intermediary of the village leadership.

      The primary locus of politics for...

    • CHAPTER X Peasant Revolution
      (pp. 226-256)

      The twentieth century has been the century of peasant revolution.¹ In the last fifty years, peasants in certain areas have engaged in prolonged national struggles to change the system of government and the distribution of power. These movements have not been based on a sudden burst of violence after frustration has built as was often true of the spasmodic, anomic peasant rebellions of past centuries. Rather, peasants in these cases have engaged in long drawn-out revolutions in a variety of institutionalized ways—as political cadres, as disciplined soldiers, as loyal suppliers of food, money, and shelter, and as active and...

  9. CHAPTER XI Conclusion: The Shrinking World
    (pp. 257-266)

    The old, autarchic village is now almost entirely extinct. Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, peasants have greatly increased involvement outside their little communities. Vigilant lords and community organization now only infrequently apply effective sanctions against peasants’ widening the scope of their external participation. Rapid and socially destabilizing changes have affected all types of peasant villages, ranging from those which were freeholding to those with powerful lords.

    One reason for these changes stems from outside classes which have overwhelmed the peasantry. This is not unprecedented in peasant experience. Freeholding cultivators were reduced to peonage many times in...

  10. APPENDIX A. The Scale of External Relations
    (pp. 267-268)
  11. APPENDIX B. A List of the Communities Used
    (pp. 269-274)
    (pp. 275-296)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 297-300)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)