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Human Development in the Era of Globalization

Essays in Honor of Keith B. Griffin

Edited by James K. Boyce, Stephen Cullenberg, Prasanta K. Pattanaik and Robert Pollin

Honoring Keith Griffin’s more than 40 years of fundamental contributions to the discipline of economics, the papers in this volume reflect his deep commitment to advancing the well-being of the world’s poor majority and his unflinching willingness to question conventional wisdom as to how this should be done.
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Chapter 12: Class Transition in the Age of Globalization: Examples from the Rural Sectors in India and Kenya

Anjan Chakrabarti, Stephen Cullenberg and Mwangi wa Gîthînji


Anjan Chakrabarti, Stephen Cullenberg and Mwangi wa Gîthînji Thirty years ago Keith Griffin published his influential book The Political Economy of Agrarian Change where he analyzed the economic, social and political consequences of the ‘green revolution’ in Asia and Latin America. The powerful and controversial conclusion that Griffin reached in his study was that the green revolution, rather than having an unambiguous positive effect on reducing malnutrition or increased agricultural production, resulted instead in increased inequality and the polarization of classes. This analysis was stunning and controversial because it challenged what many felt were the overwhelming salutary effects of the green revolution, arguably the most important phenomenon affecting the development process at the time. Today for many it is ‘globalization’ that has replaced the green revolution as the driving force for growth, the reduction in inequality and the eradication of poverty. In recent work, Griffin has challenged this oversimplification as well. We want to argue that one of most important innovations that Griffin made in his The Political Economy of Agrarian Change is not only the controversial policy implications his study produced, but a methodological and analytical innovation that is central to the complexity and multifaceted nature of his investigation. It is central not only to his methodology but also to the conclusions of increased inequality and the polarization of classes. Rather than theorize on the economy, or more precisely the rural economy, as a homogeneous space occupied by peasants, or peasants and landlords, Griffin recognized a multitude...

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