Peasant household survival strategies : rural transformation in the heartland of Turkey's hazelnut production belt
This study analyses the dynamics of persistence of the peasantry in a capitalist social formation through a case study of a village (Kayadibi) of hazelnut producers in the Central Black Sea region of Turkey. In the analysis the peasant household is given analytical priority as it is seen to be the single most important social institution through which the peasantry interacts, condition and is conditioned by the wider social, economic and political structures. Within such an analytical framework, this study concentrates on three areas of inquiry concerning the dynamics of survival of peasant modes. This is carried out in the context of the process of rural socio-economic transformation which took place under the impact of capitalism and with the start of hazelnut production for the world market in the early nineteenth century. These are: (1) the historical and contingent factors which contributed to the emergence and decline of big land- ownership and the new forms of development of capitalism in agriculture; (2) the areas of disputes and clashes of interests between the peasantry, the state and the merchants concerning the actual form of organization of the commodity and credit markets and further development or restriction of hazelnut production in the country; and (3) the patterns and mechanisms which enable the peasant households to have continuous access to land, labour and credit. The thesis arrives at the conclusion that the key to the persistence of the peasantry, as a property-owning social category of the society in a capitalist formation, is its strategy of diversifying its sources of income in order to decrease the degree of its dependency on land-bound agricultural production. This is combined with the strategy of consolidating its savings in the means of production in its own possession instead of using them to improve its standards of living and consumption.