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Peasant movements, 19th and 20th centuries

Max Henninger

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place World

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics agriculture, revolution, rural, taxation

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01168.x


Peasants are small agricultural producers who produce mainly for their own consumption. Scott (1976) has argued peasant societies display specific moral standards that entail tolerance of exploitation for as long as subsistence is not threatened. Peasant movements have typically developed where market forces or action by landowners or the state have violated this expectation. Land enclosure, high rent, taxes, and fluctuating market prices have been central grievances addressed by such movements. The twentieth century has been characterized by several authors (e.g. Migdal 1974 ) as that of peasant revolutions. Tax boycotts and land seizures by peasants were frequent in 1830s and 1840s France. Land seizures occurred in Italy during the 1848–9 period and the 1860s. Peasant unrest also occurred in Germany: in 1830, Hessian peasants constrained landowners to restore enclosed village lands. Nineteenth-century Russia experienced numerous peasant uprisings: 1,186 were counted between 1826 and 1861 ( Wolf 1969 : 52). During the “green rising” of the first quarter of the twentieth century, peasant organizations pressed for land reform throughout Eastern Europe. Peasant parties dominated the political scene of Eastern Europe until the 1930s, their cause promoted by theorists such as the Croat brothers Radic. Early twentieth-century agrarian reforms were often a reaction to peasant unrest, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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