Peasants and family farms : the position of households in cotton production in a village of western Turkey
This study examines the ways in which peasants in a village of Western Turkey produce cotton, a commodity sold on national and international markets. By looking at the way in which the various means of production are procured and deployed by cotton producers, the study hopes to demonstrate the role played by social, non-market structures such as the village and the household in the organisation of production. The study is based on data collected during a period of eighteen months' fieldwork in 1978 and 1979 in a cotton-producing plain in Western Turkey. Apart from a number of subsequent visits, a further two-months were spent conducting a survey of the households of the village during the summer of 1984. The thesis begins by setting out the theoretical parameters within which peasant studies have been carried out to date. The various ways in which peasants have been conceptualised in anthropology and in political economy are examined and the use of structural models in to create universal analytical categories such as 'peasant' or 'petty commodity producer are questioned. It is argued that to the extent that the village and the household remain one of the most important pools from which inputs, especially labour, are supplied, it is very difficult to predict production decisions or understand the mechanisms that make the production of commodities by peasants possible. In the next three chapters, the social units, such as households and neighbourhoods that make up the village are described. A brief exploration of regional history shows the relatively recent origins in Söke of villages as well as of peasant production. Existing social and economic exchanges within the settlement are shown to constitute the village as a totality which has significance in the organisation of commodity production undertaken by households. A discussion showing the role of the state in establishing peasant farming of cotton is followed by a delineation of the technological limits under which cotton production is carried out. Land and labour are isolated as the traditional inputs which largely limit production. It is argued that with the increasing importance of modern inputs which can only be acquired with money, the place of land and labour in agricultural production has radically changed. A look at the organisation of work shows the extent to which different factors become the factors limiting production in the different production units found in the Söke plain. The subsequent three chapters describe in detail the ways in which peasant producers have access to each of the major inputs, land, cash and labour. In this context, emphasis is placed on the role of households, neighbourhoods and other socially significant relationships in influencing the production process. In the last section, the mechanisms through which capital is accumulated by peasant households are examined, and the possibilities of expanded reproduction by small commodity producers are explored. By including social variables In a study of economic production, It Is hoped that broad generalisations regarding the persistence or disappearance of peasants under conditions of increasing commoditisation can be avoided.