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Peasants play a key role in the processes of growth and development of rural areas. But the practices and the organizational forms or arrangements can be very different in…
Peasants play a key role in the processes of growth and development of rural areas. But the practices and the organizational forms or arrangements can be very different in relation to the context or territory of origin. This has resulted in a multiplicity of solutions unlikely to be repeated in other sectorial or scientific context. This heterogeneity of responses allows the peasants model to strengthen the resilience of rural areas and offer itself as an alternative model of agricultural modernization paths increasingly ineffective in managing the modern complexity. This is a common element that emerges in all experiences of rural development in Brazil, China, and Europe, which are compared in this book. In addition to this, this chapter highlights some commonalities that can be used to delineate the attributes of the new peasantry and its consolidation and dissemination in space and time.
In any time and space and under any circumstance, we find peasants are never passive actors in their livelihoods and rural development. Instead, they always create space…
In any time and space and under any circumstance, we find peasants are never passive actors in their livelihoods and rural development. Instead, they always create space for manoeuvre in order to make changes. This chapter analyses the innovative actions taken by the majority of rural inhabitants in rural areas during the overwhelming modernization process, so as to affirm that peasants are the main actors of rural development. It is they who have shaped the transformation of rural societies and the history. Through the analysis, this chapter concludes that rural development is not an objective, a blueprint nor a design. It is not the to-be-developed rear field in modernization. It is not the babysitter for cities, nor a rehearsal place for bureaucrats to testify their random thoughts. Rural development is what peasants do. The path they have chosen reveals scenery so different from modernization. If we regard development as a social change, or a cross with influential meanings, we could understand rural development as peasants’ victories over their predicament. Villages accommodate not only peasants, but without peasants villages would surely vanish. In this sense, the most important part in rural development or rural change is peasants – their conditions and their feelings.
From a more general point of view the initiatives and novel practices of farmers represent ‘seeds of transition’. They are the ‘sprouts’ out of which new socio-technical…
From a more general point of view the initiatives and novel practices of farmers represent ‘seeds of transition’. They are the ‘sprouts’ out of which new socio-technical modes for organizing production and marketing emerge – ‘sprouts’ that, taken together can be described under the term ‘rural development’. The examples are, on the whole, well-known; they include agro-ecological production, on-farm processing, agro-tourism, new credit associations and cooperative forms of commercialization. But it remains important to develop a more sociological interpretation of these new forms: since they are produced by social actors and are constantly redefined and modified through the relations and interactions implied by these new forms. This chapter defines the outline on actors and practices that will be discussed in later chapters of the book.
This book is the result of a selection of papers presented in the seminar held in Beijing in 2012. It is the third in chronological order of a seminar series on the…
This book is the result of a selection of papers presented in the seminar held in Beijing in 2012. It is the third in chronological order of a seminar series on the comparative analysis of rural development in China, Brazil, and the EU. In previous seminars (2010 in Rome, 2011 in Porto Alegre) the focus was, first, on the nature and dynamics of rural development processes and, second, on the performance of rural development policies. In the third seminar (held in Beijing in November 2012), the focus was on actors and practices. What motivates the actors who are actively involved in rural development? And how do they structure their new practices? In this chapter, different stories on rural development practices between China, Brazil, and the EU are illustrated, highlighting the differences and also commonalities and similarities. In this story, the figure of the peasant appears crucial and in different dimensions: from the manager of natural resources who takes the greatest care of their condition in order to achieve the largest profits; to the innovator who builds on age old methods to find novel solutions with the available conditions, resources, and technologies, and who creates the right synergies for harmonious and positive impact solutions; to the rural villager who does with what he/she has and knows, but who at the same time is curious about innovations; to the father who is aware that he is responsible for building a future for his children. Peasant agriculture seems to go beyond its own limits through a transition process that has led to a paradigm shift moving away from the modernization and creating new opportunities and alternatives in terms of practices, products, and markets. These alternatives are now representing the base for a new autonomy and competitiveness of rural areas in an increasingly globalized world.
Comparing rural development with agricultural modernisation, there are fundamental differences. Industrial development of agriculture more and more segregates agriculture…
Comparing rural development with agricultural modernisation, there are fundamental differences. Industrial development of agriculture more and more segregates agriculture from other functions and is based on an ‘individualised transaction model’ in which the world consists of loose particles that are linked by markets (atomistic world view). Conversely rural development can be perceived as a form of re-socialisation of agriculture and is based on a ‘relational cooperation model’ in which new relations characterise business development.
This chapter is a second level type of analysis of many research findings of these common traits or features and gives a picture of the distinctiveness of rural development practices. Nine different features that characterize rural development practices are described and discussed: (1) novelty production, (2) relative autonomy, (3) synergy, (4) clashes and competing claims, (5) coalitions and new relations; the construction of rural webs, (6) common pool resources, (7) new division of labour, (8) the distinctive different impact and (9) resilience. The more these features are present and intertwined, the better the specific practice can face and withstand adverse conditions. These features and the associated practices have to be understood as part of a wider transitional process that might co-evolve with or run counter to competing transitional processes.