Decentralization, Informalization, and the State: A Reinterpretation of the Farm Crisis in the U.S.
Department of Sociology, University of Kansas
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The paper presents a critical reinterpretation of the farm crisis and of the related phenomena of industrial decentralization and informalization. It is argued that the present farm crisis is new only in qualitative terms, as 'the farming sector experienced similar crises in different periods of U.s. history. It is also pointed out that only some segments of the farming sector are experiencing this crisis, while others are growing and profiting from the present conjuncture. The crisis of the middle sector of American agriculture and the growth of part-time farming free rural labor into the market and reduce the cost of land. These factors, coupled with a restructuring process in the industrial sector, fuel the processes of decentralization and informalization in rural areas. The State is a principal actor in this process: in the attempt to generate accumulation and maintain legitimation, it encourages the exploitation of inexpensive resources and labor. State support of industrial decentralization and its present posture toward farm programs generate contradictions. It is impossible for the State to support present patterns of accumulation and legitimation while simultaneously encouraging patterns of development in rural areas. Growth with underdevelopment may ultimately result from State action.
Mid-American Review of Sociology, Volume 12, Number 1 (SPRING, 1987), pp. 15-34 http://dx.doi.org/10.17161/STR.1808.5008
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