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Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance Paperback – September 10, 1987


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Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance + Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts + Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300036418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300036411
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Scott is a brilliant thinker and ethnographer but he is also is a great writer.
tortuga
Even though this new method of farming led to a dramatic increase in production, it wasn't benefitting the entire community.
S. Boyle
The last thing I expected to be was entertained, but most of this book is actually very good and fun reading.
H. Huggins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By H. Huggins on October 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up in order to write my Master's thesis on dissidence and collective action in rural China. The last thing I expected to be was entertained, but most of this book is actually very good and fun reading. True, the other part is highly academic, but still accessible and absolutely essential to understanding the dynamics of change in authoritarian societies.
Before Scott published his book, the dominant model for understanding participation in authoritarian societies did not extend far beyond institutional and client-patron models. Scott breaks away from this mode and demonstrates how ordinary, powerless people in repressive societies can still manage to influence policies, through such actions as sabotage, foot-dragging, and gossip. This model makes it much easier to understand, for example, how China reformed its agricultural system (although this book is about a Malaysian village, it is easily applied to most any country one wishes to study).
Essential reading for political scientists and sociologists alike. After reading this book, you will have a whole different view of how change is affected, and a more sophisticated frame of analysis.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Piro on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Through an observation of a peasant community in Malaysia, Scott maintains that traditional and classic theories on forms of resistance and protest are actually wrong. In proving this, he also proves that class-consciousness and labor relations are not universal and are not similar to one another. Scott believes however that these forms of resistance are common in all peasant societies and take the same shaping. Scott supports his main argument by stating that although is widely believed that peasants cannot struggle or resist oppression because of their "false conciseness" the peasants do indeed resist but not through what we have learned to accept and know what traditionally has been defined as resistance.

Peasants, Scott argues, have their own forms of resistance which have not until now been looked into. The resistance or protest of peasants in the Malaysian village of Sedaka may not be collective and organized but they certainly exist. Simply because the Sedaka villagers do not protest in what we have come to know as "protest" that does not prove that there is no resistance or opposition to authority, change in labor relations, or social changes. Instead of revolution, the peasants choose what the author calls "the weapons of the poor:" silent non-compliance, gossip, character murder, petty sabotage, small theft and pilferage. The common characteristics in these acts of resistance are almost invisible and non-coordinated. The reasons behind these acts are not straightforward: do the poor steal in order to feed their families or do they do so in order to hurt the rich in the village?

Scott goes further into predicting that the weapons of the poor may not directly create a new order, they are effective in mitigating the process of marginalisation and therefore have made impact overtime in social changes and history.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L. Gilmartin on April 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
James Scott study of the Malaysian village he calls "Sedaka" (alms) shows a unique opposition to Marx's idea of mystifying ideologies. Marx's theory is understood that the core of society is class conflict. This conflict is what drives things forward; it will eventually lead to the proletariat realizing that they are being exploited and a radical reformation of society as it is. The proletariat, no longer chained down by bourgeoisie hegemony, would revolt and cause other epochal change.
The people of Sedaka are portrayed very realistically in the sense that Scott does not leave any element out. He is extremely detailed in his theoretical criticisms as well by arguing against the idea that these people fit into any one theory. Most noticeably, Scott critiques Marx who said that ideologies were mystifying, meaning that the proletariat did not know that they were being exploited. Scott points out rather obviously that these people are well aware of the way in which they are treated and as a result engage in a variety of forms of resistance.
Understanding the village dynamics is key in understanding the ways in which theory can be applied or disproved. Scott uses Chapter one to lay out exactly how the villagers interact with one another. He introduces to opposing extreme characters Razah and Haji Broom. Chapter two explains resistance and its history. It is here where he explores Gramsci's concept of hegemony, which he later disproves. Chapter three explores resistance in the Malaysian context. The relationship between classes as well as the relationship that classes have to the state is also discussed.
During the second half of the book, Scott writes on the changes that occurred due to the green revolution.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Maybe Later Thanks on December 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book in college and loved it because it was informative and readable, a rare combination. I didn't appreciate the value of its insights until many years later, though, when I became a corporate consultant tasked with driving organizational change. When people talk about getting buy-in, empowerment, and other workplace democracy concepts, they are all about avoiding the negative dynamics that top-down command-and-control micro-management so often elicits. Those dynamics are the same ones documented in this book.
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