The groups and settlements of people who earn their living mainly by cultivating land and by carrying out allied activities like fishing and animal husbandry are called agrarian societies. Agricultural economics sprang from the economic activities of agricultural production, agricultural consumption, agricultural investment and agricultural exchange which relates to product pricing of agriculture goods and factor pricing or simply distribution of agriculture goods and services. It is important to note that the activities of production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services are the three vital economic activities of every economy. And, agricultural production is clearly an important economic activity. But, like all other economic activities, it is carried out in a social context or structure as it is governed by social interactions and connections.
Persons engaged in agriculture or cultivation of land also deal with each other in different social capabilities and dimensions. Some may cultivate their lands on their own while others may hire labourers or give their land on rent to tenants. They not only interact within their agrarian peasantry class but they also on a regular basis interact with various other classes of people who offer them different types of services necessary for the cultivation of land. The best example is of the Jajmani system, the socio-economic system in which members of various castes served their patron/village community who generally belonged to upper castes. It was present in the traditional Hindu societies which were typically ‘so-called self-sufficient’ societies (IGNOUHelp.in; eGyanKosh, 2017).
Unlike the modem industrial societies which are fully integrated and internally connected where it is somewhat easy to classify and recognize various class groups, the pre-modern social structures of agrarian societies were diverse and disparate as they are characterized by assortments, multiplicities, and mixtures of various kinds. Along with the division of labour, the notion of surplus value also came into being in the agrarian class structure. The division of labour refers to the division of different kinds of tasks that are carried out by specific individuals or groups as a part of a stable group, arrangement or set-up(eGyanKosh, 2017). So, when a group of workers does different tasks in order to increase production and productivity, we call it a division of labour. The beginning of the Industrial order around the 18th century A.D. marked the development of the factory system, a system under which the factors of production were combined together or used in proportion so as to increase production. It promoted division of labour which generated specialization of tasks. From region to region the nature and dynamics of the agrarian class structure show a discrepancy to a great extent. The beginning of the Industrial order made the situation even more complex by the fact that it shakes up the stability of the agrarian world. The situation got worse in recent times due to the fact that the agrarian structure in most societies has been subjected to fundamental transformations, primarily in the productive sectors which were interconnected to each other (eGyanKosh, 2017).
The agriculture sector takes account of all those economic activities where there is the direct use of natural resources such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, fuels, metals, minerals, and so on. In some of the economies, mining activity is a part of the secondary or manufacturing sector nevertheless we perceive the direct use of natural resources here. Generally, such economies name their agriculture sector as the primary sector. Agriculture has become a rather marginal sector of the economy in most developed societies of the West, providing employment to only a very small proportion of their populations, while in the Third world countries, it provides employment to a very large proportion of their populations, and yet the worth, impact and, significance of agriculture has substantially dropped. As a consequence, we need to keep in mind the fact that there is no single model or theory of agrarian class structure that can be applied to all the societies to develop an evocative, expressive, and eloquent understanding of the nature and significance of agrarian social structure , in general, and agriculture , in particular (eGyanKosh, 2017).
In order to bring reforms in the agriculture sector that would actually shape the dynamics of agriculture, we need to revisit some questions: What do we mean by agrarian social structure? What are the ideas, designs, notions, and formations of agrarian societies? How do agrarian class structures help in the renovations and makeovers? After going through these questions we can be in a position to display the notion of class and how it can be applied to study agriculture, in general, and agrarian societies , in particular.
Singh, R. Indian Economy, 5e, McGrawHill Education (India) Private Limited, 2013.
Dhanagare, D.N. (1983), Peasant Movements in India, 1920-50,Delhi, OUP
IGNOUHelp.in. ESO-14. Study Material. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/ site/ ignou help books 49/ Block 7%20Class%20in%20Indian%20Society.zip?attredirects=0&d=1
eGyanKosh. (2017). Unit 25. Agrarian Class Structure. Retrieved fromhttp://egyankosh.ac.in//handle/123456789/21620
Rao, S.K. & Ahuja, K.R. (2007). Modern Textbook of Sociology. New Academic Publications, Darya Ganj, Delhi.
The author is a Research Scholar, at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar and Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science. She is also an Ezine Articles Expert Author; IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018) and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org