Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change

By Henry Bernstein  

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Agrarian political economy investigates the social relations of production and reproduction, property and power in agrarian formations, and how they change. Using Marx’s theory of capitalism the book argues that class dynamics should be the starting point of any analysis of agrarian change.

As an introduction to agrarian political economy, this book includes explanations and applications of its key concepts, a glossary of analytical terms, and a historical approach and framework for examining agrarian change in capitalism. The author assumes no prior knowledge of political economy on the part of readers but aims, through this stimulating introduction, to encourage them to study it further.

Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change is the first volume in a new series called Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies, developed by Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies.

“The most sweeping, original, and discerning class analysis of agrarian history in many decades… essential reading for any and all agraristas both inside and outside the academy.”

— James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology; Director, Agrarian Studies, Yale University

“Bernstein shows that a ‘little book’ can be a tour de force. Decades of scholarship are lightly worn and compellingly revealed in this treasure chest of a book. It should be essential reading for all development students and activists. With the bar set this high we can all look forward to this series.”

— Barbara Harriss-White, Director, Oxford University’s Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme


  • Introduction: The Political Economy of Agrarian Change
  • Production and Productivity
  • Origins and Early Development of Capitalism
  • Colonialism and Capitalism
  • Farming and Agriculture, Local and Global
  • Neoliberal Globalization and World Agriculture
  • Capitalist Agriculture and Non-Capitalist Farmers?
  • Class Formation in the Countryside
  • Complexities of Class
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Index


  • Henry Bernstein

    University of London, UK

    Henry Bernstein teaches in the Department of Development Studies at the University of London, UK

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