Social Scientist. v 11, no. 125 (Oct 1983) p. 57.

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Dynamics of Rural Transformation

C T KURIEN, DYNAMICS OF RURAL TRANSFORMATION, Orient-Longman Ltd, 1981, pp xi+151, Rs 52.

IN THE 30 odd years since independence a great deal has been said and- written on the rural economy. Even confining oneself to the scholarly literature, one can identify several approaches and varied concerns. There is a large body of work cast in the mould of the most recent fashionable variety of conventional neo-classical economics, which seeks to analyse the rural economy in terms of production functions and programming models of optimising farmers. This body of work partly arose, at least initially, to assert the 'rationality9 of the Indian farmer, and thus had a positive (though extremely limited) role to play insofar as it combated the mystification of certain strands of economic sociology prevalent in the West in the immediate post-war period which tended to hypothesise an "Eastern behaviour-determining ethos55 distinct from the micro-economic rationality of the economic aglent in a market economy. However, this approach, with its ahistoric, neo-classical parentage, naturally proved itself incapable of analysing the rural economy as a whole, much less rural transformation. Another body of work. some of it at least Marxist in theoretical origin and inspiration, has been concerned with the question of the mode of production of the rural—more specifically, agrarian—economy.1 Much of [his work remains at a liigh level of abstraction, with recourse to empirical work or evidence being made only to clinch specific theoretical issues. Whi-L ihis body of work lias been extremely important both in raising important questions and in elevating the theoretical level of inquiries into the mral economy, it necessarily has to be supplemented and enriched by extensive empirical studies, at various levels of disaggregation. Some studies of the rural economy which take the village as the unit of study are explicitly intended to serve this purpose.2 A detailed study of the economy of any particular village has the further advantage of enabling the scholar to combine the methods of economics and anthropology. However, while such studies are useful, the cost in terms of time and research man-power is obviously prohibitive. It is here that a third type of work, complementary to those referred to

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