Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



The development of markets and the penetration of capital into agriculture have started theagrarian transition in rural China, which is transforming smallholding, household-basedagriculture into various forms of capitalistic production. This raises again in a new historicaland social context the long-debated question in the agrarian transition literature: Can familyfarms survive the onslaught of capitalist agriculture based on wage labor and what shapes theconfrontation between family farms and agro-capital? I argue that it is the local politicaleconomy—rather than some natural obstacles in agriculture to the penetration of capitalism—that shapes this confrontation and gives rise to a variety of local patterns in how familyproducers interact with agro-capital. Conceptually, the primary dimension in which localpatterns diverge is how direct producers’ transactions with the product market are mediated.Based on this distinction, I identify three distinct local paths of agrarian transition—agribusiness-led corporate production, independent household production, and cooperativeproduction. I use data collected from fieldwork and secondary sources to show how, in eachmodel, characteristics of the local pattern are shaped by the local political economy.


agrarian transition, agribusiness, family farming, cooperatives, capitalism, China


Agribusiness | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Asian Studies

Research Areas

Sociology; Political Science


Joint Conference of the Association for Asian Studies and International Convention of Asia Scholars 2011, March 31 - April 3

City or Country

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.