Socioeconomic stratification and differentiation of the modern peasantry :a longitudinal analysis of small farmers in Röndonia, Brazil
Boelens, Lyle A
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Land settlement programs have been promoted by governments worldwide to accomplish such broad goals as providing equitable land distribution among national populations, expanding agricultural production, correcting population imbalances, providing new income opportunities to the poor and landless, and preserving national security (Oberai 1986). By promoting frontier land settlement, governments introduce both intended and unintended changes in agrarian systems and social classes. These changes raise questions about the extent of small farmer participation in capitalist economies, whether these farmers are a socioeconomically homogenous group, and about their future viability as distinct social and economic formations. The primary focus of this micro-level analysis is to identify common land use, demographic, and economic characteristics of small farmers in Rolim de Moura, Rondonia to create a profile of smaIl farmers in the region, to determine if these farmers are stratified by these characteristics, and to assess whether changes in these characteristics from 1985 to 1990 indicate differentiation among these farmers. The results of the study are compared with theoretical descriptions of peasant producers to determine their applicability for describing small farmers in Rondonia. Cluster analysis of the longitudinal data presented in two household surveys of small farmers in Rolim de Moura reveal that these households are stratified according to land use and economic factors into three major groups. Further division of the households into four groups in 1990 suggests that differentiation is occurring among households in the area. The results of this longitudinal study support Mann's (1990) thesis that types of agricultural production indicate stratification among small farmers.
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