Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Weapons of the Weak

Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance

James C. Scott
Copyright Date: 1985
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 392
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Weapons of the Weak
    Book Description:

    This sensitive picture of the constant and circumspect struggle waged by peasants materially and ideologically against their oppressors shows that techniques of evasion and resistance may represent the most significant and effective means of class struggle in the long run.

    "A major contribution to peasant studies, Malaysian studies, and the literature on revolutions and class consciousness."--Benedict R. Anderson, Cornell University"The book is a splendid achievement. Because Scott listens closely to the villagers of Malaysia, he enormously expands our understanding of popular ideology and therefore of popular politics. And because he is also a brilliant analyst, he draws upon this concrete experience to develop a new critique of classical theories of ideology."-Frances Fox Piven, Graduate Center of the City University of New York"An impressive work which may well become a classic."-Terence J. Byres,Times Literary Supplement"A highly readable, contextually sensitive, theoretically astute ethnography of a moral system in change….Weapons of the Weakis a brilliant book, combining a sure feel for the subjective side of struggle with a deft handling of economic and political trends."-John R. Bown,Journal of Peasant Studies"A splendid book, a worthy addition to the classic studies of Malay society and of the peasantry at large…. Combines the readability ofAkenfieldorPig Earthwith an accessible and illuminating theoretical commentary."-A.F. Robertson,Times Higher Education Supplement"No one who wants to understand peasant society, in or out of Southeast Asia, or theories of change, should fail to read [this book]."-Daniel S. Lev,Journal of Asian Studies"A moving account of the poor's refusal to accept the terms of their subordination…. Disposes of the belief that theoretical sophistication and intelligible prose are somehow at odds."-Ramachandra Guha,Economic and Political Weekly"A seminally important commentary on the state of peasant studies and the global literature…. This enormously rich work in Asian and comparative studies is… an essential contribution to participatory development theory and practice."-Guy Gran,World DevelopmentJames C. Scottis professor of political science at Yale University.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15362-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  5. 1 Small Arms Fire in the Class War
    (pp. 1-27)

    The narrow path that serves as the thoroughfare of this small rice-farming village was busier than usual that morning. Groups of women were on their way to transplant the irrigated crop and men were bicycling their children to the early session of school in the nearby town of Kepala Batas. My children were all gathered, as usual, at the windows to watch as each passerby gazed our way from the moment the house came into view until it passed from view. This scene had become, in the space of a few weeks, a daily ritual. The villagers of Sedaka were...

  6. 2 Normal Exploitation, Normal Resistance
    (pp. 28-47)

    The idea for this study, its concerns and its methods, originated in a growing dissatisfaction with much recent work—my own as well as that of others—on the subject of peasant rebellions and revolution. ¹ It is only too apparent that the inordinate attention accorded to large-scale peasant insurrection was, in North America at least, stimulated by the Vietnam war and something of a left-wing academic romance with wars of national liberation. In this case interest and source material were mutually reinforcing. For the historical and archival records were richest at precisely those moments when the peasantry came to...

  7. 3 The Landscape of Resistance
    (pp. 48-85)

    The setting within which the peasants of Sedaka today conduct their lives is, only in small part, their own creation. Perhaps a century ago, before British annexation, when land was still being cleared, when the cash economy and production for sale were but a minor facet of a basically subsistence economy, and when the intrusions of the state into village affairs were only sporadic, it might have been plausible to think of the pioneers of Sedaka as largely the creators of their small world. Even then of course they were scarcely autonomous. ¹ The state was already mobilizing labor to...

  8. 4 Sedaka, 1967–1979
    (pp. 86-137)

    The foreground of the landscape we are viewing is formed by village-level “facts” as they have become evident in the past decade. Here the focus is even sharper, for they are “facts” that have been directly experienced—for example, changes in rental forms, mechanization, wages, land tenure, credit, charity. These facts are not simply the replication of the middle ground in the village context. This particular village is, as any other particular village would be, to some extent unique. Put another way, Sedaka has had its own special green revolution in keeping with its particular history, its particular cast of...

  9. 5 History according to Winners and Losers
    (pp. 138-183)

    For some very limited purposes, the laborious account of tenure, income, mechanization, and political power contained in the preceding chapter might suffice. It has at least the advantage of indicating how the “big battalions” of contemporary agrarian change—commercialization, capital, and irrigation—have reordered the relations of production in a very small place. To stop there, however, would merely add another small brick to an edifice that is the by now familiar and somewhat demoralizing story of the local effects of the green revolution.

    As a social history—as human history—that account is inadequate. It is to real social...

  10. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  11. 6 Stretching the Truth: Ideology at Work
    (pp. 184-240)

    Double-cropping and mechanization in Sedaka have presented rich peasants and landlords with a host of unprecedented new opportunities for profit. These opportunities have, with few exceptions, been eagerly seized.

    To exploit these new chances for capital accumulation, however, large farmers and landlords have stripped away many of the economic and social ties that previously bound them to poorer villagers. They have had to hire machines in place of village laborers, raise rents, dismiss tenants, and cut back their ceremonial and charitable obligations within the community. In doing so, they have found themselves operating in something of an ideological vacuum. What...

  12. 7 Beyond the War of Words: Cautious Resistance and Calculated Conformity
    (pp. 241-303)

    From the account thus far, one might justifiably assume that the struggle between rich and poor was largely confined to a war of words. That assumption would not be entirely wrong, but it would be misleading. For the poor and wealthy peasants of Sedaka are not merely having anargument; they are also having a fight. Under the circumstances, the fight is less a pitched battle than a lowgrade, hit-and-run, guerrilla action. The kind of “fight” to be described and analyzed in this chapter is, I believe, the typical, “garden variety” resistance that characterizes much of the peasantry and other...

  13. 8 Hegemony and Consciousness: Everyday Forms of Ideological Struggle
    (pp. 304-350)

    No one who looks even slightly beneath the fairly placid official surface of class relations in Sedaka would find it easy to argue that the poor are much mystified about their situation. Their account of the green revolution and its social consequences is widely divergent from that of the rich. Seemingly straightforward social facts about who is rich and who is poor—and how rich and how poor—are contested in this community. The poor, when they may do so with relative safety, display an impressive capacity to penetrate behind the pieties and rationales of the rich farmers and to...

  14. Appendix A A Note on Village Population, 1967–1979
    (pp. 351-354)
  15. Appendix B Farm Income Comparisons for Different Tenure and Farm Size Categories, Muda, 1966, 1974, 1979
    (pp. 355-355)
  16. Appendix C Data on Land Tenure Changes, Net Returns, and Political Office
    (pp. 356-360)
  17. Appendix D Glossary of Local Terms
    (pp. 361-361)
  18. Appendix E Translation of Surat Layang
    (pp. 362-363)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 364-374)
  20. Index
    (pp. 375-389)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 390-390)