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Version française de cette page : Grande production ou petite production ? La « question agraire » aujourd’hui

Large-scale or small-scale production in agriculture? The “agrarian question” today

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La petite exploitation agricole méditerranéenne, une réponse en temps de crise. Editeurs scientifiques : Jean-Christophe Paoli (coordinateur), Théodosia Anthopoulou, Abdallah Ben Saad, Pascal Bergeret, Mohamed Elloumi, Claude Napoléone, Gisèle Vianey. Options méditerranéennes Série A : Séminaires Méditerranéens. 2017 - Numéro 117. Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes International (CIHEAM). 336 p.



In “The Agrarian Question” (1899) Kautsky analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of large-scale production and peasant production. He considered that the industrialization of agriculture and the proletarianization of the peasants were inevitable and represented a necessary step in the development of socialism. Until the late twentieth century, his prediction was only confirmed in countries whose states had organized violent collectivization of agriculture, but not at all in Western countries. However, since the 1970s and after the fall of the Soviet bloc, the development of agrarian capitalism through large farms employing paid labor seems inescapable. Based on various field studies and rethinking some concepts in daily use, we discover that the real superiority of large-scale production in agriculture does not lie in its ability to create net wealth per area unit or to create jobs, but in its ability to capture different kinds of income. The appropriation and concentration of land and natural resources are nevertheless place humanity under a global threat. Revisiting the agrarian question today and rethinking the relationship between large- scale and small-scale production are key, both for researchers and for social movements.

Paper only available in French.