Peasants under Peripheral Capitalism
The last decade saw the blosoming of Marxism in Western Sociology, notably as a theoretical perspective of mush perceived promise in the study of the issues of development and underdevelopment in less developed societies. An aspect of this perspective that gained particular attention is the mode of production theory which social anthropologists and sociologists alike have come to apply in their analyses of social formations in the Third World.
The present work represents one such analysis. Drawing inspiration from the now well-known debate on ‘the agrarian question’ or ‘the differentiation of the peasantry, the writer conducted field research in four communities of rural Malaysia. His findings have led him to argue that the transition to capitalism in a Third World social formation such as Malaysia may take a different form from that which characterised the West European social formations in the nineteenth century. The study points to the differences in the impact of the capitalist mode of production on the development of various sectores of rural economy and society in Malaysia.
Excerpt: Peasants under Peripheral Capitalism is a study of transformation of peasant societies located within the sociological debate on the agrarian question. It seeks to examine historically and empirically the manner by which the peasantry has been transformed as a result of the extension and domination of capitalist mode of production in a specific social formation.
This study takes the view that there is a difference in the manner by which the ‘peasant problem’ in the less developed societies is solved as compared with that in the now advanced countries of Western Europe. This difference can be shown through a study of the process in a peripheral social transformation and to be compared with the historical experience of the advanced capitalist countries.
This type of study can be meaningful only if the totality of the social formation in question, particularly the economic infrastructure, and the role of the state are taken into consideration. Or these, the state also plays an important role in directing the process of transition of the agrarian sector in the Third World social formation.