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Agrarian Revolution Paperback – April 1, 1978

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About the Author

Jeffery M. Paige is Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Jeffery M. Paige is Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (April 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029235502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029235508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,887,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
First, a warning. This is not casual reading. This is a dense academic tome, with detailed statistical analysis and in-depth case studies. And the writing style is pretty dry, although there are occasional, unexpected touches of humor (for instance, pg. 236: "Many bush traders felt that after years of unrewarding trade the millenium had finally arrived and rushed to invest in consumer goods including foreign automobiles and even refrigerators, which, considering the absence of electrification in the region, were of limited utility."). If you want to get the main gist of the book, you can probably get away with reading only the first and last chapters.

For those who are interested in the political economy of social movements, particularly in the third world, this is a valuable work. Paige looks at the various class systems in rural areas that export cash crops to the world market and breaks them down into four main types, while noting there are many intermediary varieties. He discusses the barriers different sorts of class systems can create to organizing--for instance, on what he refers to as the commercial hacienda, the peasants have little of their own organization horizontally with each other; instead, social ties run vertically between peasants and the estate-owner, which is a major obstacle to social movement organization. Typically, some outside force needs to get involved to stimulate a movement. Paige also analyzes why some class systems produce revolutionary movements and some movements that are reformist in their goals (even though they may officially adopt a radical ideology like socialism).
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Format: Paperback
To lead with some of the strongest evidence about the importance of this book, is to say that it was awarded the highest
honor, the Sorokin award, by the American Sociological Assn.
So why in the 20thC did some areas of the Third World spawn violent communist revolutions and others did not? Paige, using what now has become know as "rational choice Marxism", (which is the use of models that are prevalent in economics and game theory in order to illuminate class conflict, historical change, etc.), developed a theory which explains why some countries, for example, Vietnam and Angola spawned communist peasant revolutions while other equally or more oppressed ex-colonial nations did not.
Paige argues that the contours of politcal conflict are based on the pattern (or "mode") of agricultural production, and not because of "communist subversion". In short, tenant farming created a zero-sum game in which agrarian elites were increasingly driven to brutally extract surplus value from peasants via taxation and land appropriation.
Paige's work spawned a large literature within the field of peasants studies, including many, joining a very old debate, who criticized Paige for being too economistic in his analysis. In any case, it remains an important landmark in sociology and continues the traditions of political sociology associated with Barrington Moore, Theda Skocpol et al.
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Format: Paperback
This book was the Sorokin Award winner of the American Sociological Association.
So why in the 20thC do some areas of the Third World spawn violent communist revolutions and others don't? Paige, using what now has become know as "rational choice Marxism" (which is to say the use of models that are prevalent in economics and game theory in order to illuminate class conflict, historical change etc.), developed a theory which explains why, for example, Vietnam and Angola spawned communist peasant revolutions based on their pattern of agricultural production. In short, tenant farming creates a zero-sum game in which agrarian elites are increasingly driven to brutally extract surplus value from peasants via taxation and land appropriation.
Paige's work spawned a large literature within the field of peasants studies, including many, joining a very old debate, who criticized Paige for being too economistic in his analysis. In any case, it remains an important landmark in sociology and continues the traditions of political sociology associated with Barrington Moore, Theda Skocpol et al.
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