Capitalism and the peasant mode of production: A Chayanovian analysis

Uleri F. Capitalism and the peasant mode of production: A Chayanovian analysis // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2019. V.4. №3. P. 43-60.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2019-4-3-43-60


Although the disappearance of the peasantry under capitalism was repeatedly announced, peasants are still here, and the peasant mode of production still serves as a livelihood basis for millions of rural households. Based on Chayanov’s ideas, the article identifies some reasons for this resistance to capitalism by describing the internal functional logic of the peasant economy and the difference of the peasant mode of production from the capitalist one. The complexity and spatial-temporal variability of agricultural production and social-economic formations of the mature capitalism are replacing agriculture in the process of changes that consist of multiple transformations (Geels, 2002; van der Ploeg, 2008). One of the most debated agrarian changes is the trajectories of rural development under the persistence or dissolution of the peasant mode of production in the course of modernization that characterizes the evolution and consolidation of capitalist societies. The fate of the peasantry, or the “peasant question”, is the core part of the larger debate on the “agrarian question”, which the Marxist political economy defines as a set of agrarian transformations leading to the penetration of capitalist relations into agriculture and to the transfer from pre-capitalist, feudal or semi-feudal modes of production to capitalism (McMichael, 2006; Akram-Lodhi, Kay, 2010a; 2010b; Lerche, 2014). However today the empirical scenario is contrary to the Marxist perspective for the peasant mode of production expands and reappears in the repeasantization as a viable alternative to the capitalist agriculture (Domínguez, 2012; Corrado, 2013; Carrosio, 2014; van der Berg et al., 2018). The author presents an overview of the classical conceptualizations of the fate of the peasantry and explains “why peasants are still here” by the spatially and temporally contextualized analysis of the peasant economy in the microeconomic perspective with the help of the theory of peasant economy (TPE) proposed by Chayanov in the early 20th century.


peasantry, capitalism, Chayanov, capital, labor

About the author

Uleri Francesca, PhD Researcher, Agrisystem Doctoral School, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza (Italy).
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Read 1708 times Last modified on Mar 15 2023

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