Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Subsistence Peasants

It also fits what economists and a number of political scientists now say about the peasantry: that peasant customs are not uneconomic, that even subsistence peasants are engaged in considerable amounts of trade, and that peasants themselves are really not obstacles to economic growth. All of this literature points to a very different argument. Indeed, it suggests that the real obstacles to growth lie elsewhere: with politics, with institutions, and with the rest of the economy -- in particular with the economy's ability to provide human and physical capital and opportunities for trade.
--Philip Hoffman, Growth in a Traditional Society: The French Countryside, 1450-1815, pg. 19. Winner of the 1997 Sharlin Memorial Award of the Social Science History Association.

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