Is money more important than status? A case of Romanian peasants

Vreja L.O. (2022): Is money more important than status? A case of Romanian peasants. Agric. Econ. – Czech, 68: 146–157.

download PDF

Agriculture has lost its importance in many parts of the world, leaving peasants in a state of uncertainty regarding their social status and identity. This article uses both quantitative and qualitative data to present the changes experienced by Romanian peasants as a result of an entire series of processes which led to the loss of their place within society. Statistical data are used to illustrate the evolution of the most relevant agriculture-related indicators over the last three decades. Qualitative data are presented in order to explain how developments in agriculture were perceived by peasants. While the changes might be irreversible, the story of the 'old' class of peasants should constitute a starting point for redesigning national policies and avoiding the disintegration of an entire social class.

Baghiu Ş., Pojoga V. (2019): Ruralism and literature in Romania: An introduction. In: Baghiu Ş., Pojoga V., Sass M. (eds): Ruralism and Literature in Romania. Berlin, Germany, Peter Lang: 13–18.
Bălan S. (2011): Ethnographic method in anthropological research. Cogito: Multidisciplinary Research Journal, 3: 61–69.
Battistelli F., Galantino M.G. (2019): Dangers, risks and threats: An alternative conceptualization to the catch-all concept of risk. Current Sociology, 67: 64–78.
Bauerkämper A., Iordachi C. (2014): The collectivization of agriculture in Eastern Europe: Entanglements and transnational comparisons. In: Iordachi C., Bauerkämper A. (eds): The Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe: Comparison and Entanglements. Budapest, Hungary, Central European University Press: 3–46.
Bauman Z. (2000): Liquid Modernity. Cambridge, United Kingdom, Polity Press: 130–167.
Beck U. (1992): Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity. London, United Kingdom, Sage Publications: 91–150.
Bernstein H. (2003): Farewells to the peasantry. Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa, 52: 1–19.
Boltvinik J. (2016): Poverty and persistence of the peasantry: Background paper. In: Boltvinik J., Mann S.A. (eds): Peasant Poverty and Persistence in the Twenty-first Century: Theories, Debates, Realities and Policies. London, United Kingdom, Zed Books: 45–91.
Borgerhoff Mulder M., Fazzio I., Irons W., McElreath R.L., Bowles S., Bell A., Hertz T., Hazzah L. (2010): Pastoralism and wealth inequality. Revisiting an old question. Current Anthropology, 51: 35–48.
Bourdieu P. (1984): Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, United Kingdom, Harvard University Press: 318–371.
Boyce C.J., Brown G.D.A., Moore S.C. (2010): Money and happiness: Rank of income, not income, affects life satisfaction. Psychological Science, 21: 471–475.
Brown-Saracino J. (2004): Social preservationists and the quest for authentic community. City & Community, 3: 135–156.
Csoba J. (2020): Revitalisation of the Household Economy. Social Integration Strategies in Disadvantaged Rural Areas of Hungary. Wiesbaden, Germany, Springer: 115–132.
Deletant D. (2019): Romania under Communism. Paradox and Degeneration. London, United Kingdom, Routledge: 49–88.
DeWalt K.M., DeWalt B.R. (2011): Participant Observation: A Guide for Fieldworkers. Walnut Creek, US, Rowman Altamira: 1–17.
Douglas M., Wildavsky A.B. (1983): Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley, US, University of California Press: 1–15.
EC (2020): Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Statistics. Eurostat, European Commission (EC). Available at (accessed Feb 3, 2022).
Ellis L., Hoskin A.W., Ratnasingam M. (2018): Handbook of Social Status Correlates. London, United Kingdom, Academic Press: 1–14.
FAO (2021): Faostat. Trade: Crops and livestock products. [Dataset]. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Available at (accessed June 21, 2021).
Faunce W.A. (1990): On the meaning of occupational status: Implications for stratification theory and research. Sociological Focus, 23: 267–285.
Geoportal ANCPI (2022): Topographic Map. [Interactive Map]. National Agency for Cadastre and Land Registration. Available at (accessed Jan 4, 2022).
Giannakis E., Bruggeman A. (2020): Regional disparities in economic resilience in the European Union across the urban-rural divide. Regional Studies, 54: 1200–1213.
Giddens A. (1991): Modernity and Self-Identity. Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge, United Kingdom, Polity Press: 70–108.
Henrich J., Gil-White F.J. (2001): The evolution of prestige: Freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission. Evolution and Human Behavior, 22: 165–196.
Kanazawa S. (2015): Evolutionary psychology and its relevance to the social sciences. In: Turner J.H., Machalek R., Maryanski A. (eds): Handbook on Evolution and Society. Toward an Evolutionary Social Science. Boulder, US, Paradigm Publishers: 136–156.
Keshabyan A., Day M.V. (2020): Concerned whether you'll make it in life? Status anxiety uniquely explains job satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 1523.
Kideckel D.A. (1983): Secular ritual and social change: A Romanian case. Anthropological Quarterly, 56: 69–75.
Kideckel D.A. (2009): Getting by in the last decade: Reflections on the conditions of workers, the market, and capitalism in two Romanian regions. Journal of International Relations and Development, 12: 403–409.
Komarek A.M., De Pinto A., Smith V.H. (2020): A review of types of risks in agriculture: What we know and what we need to know. Agricultural Systems, 178: 102738.
Krader L. (1960): The transition from serf to peasant in Eastern Europe. Anthropological Quarterly, 33: 76–90.
Morén-Alegret R., Wladyka D. (2020): International Immigration, Integration and Sustainability in Small Towns and Villages. Socio-Territorial Challenges in Rural and Semi-Rural Europe. London, United Kingdom, Palgrave Macmillan: 129–294.
NIS (2021): Tempo-Online [Dataset]. Romanian National Institute of Statistics (NIS). Available at (accessed July 8, 2021).
OECD (2000): Review of Agricultural Policies. Romania. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Paris, France, Head of Publications Division: 9–57.
Ovreiu A.B., Bărsoianu I.A., Nistor C., Nedelea A., Comă-nescu L. (2021): Long-term dynamics of land use in the Romanian Plain – The Central Bărăgan, Romania. Agriculture, 11: 423.
Patton M.Q. (2002): Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, US, Sage Publications: 209–259.
Roberts A., Palermo R., Visser T.A.W. (2019): Effects of dominance and prestige based social status on competition for attentional resources. Scientific Reports, 9: 2473.
Scheepers D., Ellemers N., Sintemaartensduk N. (2009): Suffering from the possibility of status loss: Physiological responses to social identity threat in high status groups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39: 1075–1092.
Scoones I. (2020): Pastoralists and peasants: Perspectives on agrarian change. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 48: 1–47.
Shanin T. (1972): The Awkward Class. Political Sociology of Peasantry in a Developing Society: Russia 1910–1925. Oxford, United Kingdom, Clarendon Press: 1–6.
Swain N. (2013): Green Barons, Force-of-Circumstance Entrepreneurs, Impotent Mayors. Rural Change in the Early Years of Post-Socialist Capitalist Democracy. Budapest, Hungary, Central European University Press: 71–112.
Tsantis A., Pepper R. (1979): Romania. The Industrialization of an Agrarian Economy under Socialist Planning. Washington, D.C., US, World Bank: 77–86.
Verdery K. (2004): The obligations of ownership: Restoring rights to land in postsocialist Transylvania. In: Verdery K., Humphrey C. (eds): Property in Question. Value Transformation in the Global Economy. Oxford, United Kingdom, Berg: 139–160.
Weiner A.B. (1992): Inalienable Possessions. The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving. Berkeley, US, University of California Press: 23–43.
Wolz A., Möllers J., Micu M.M. (2020): Options for agricultural service cooperatives in a postsocialist economy: Evidence from Romania. Outlook on Agriculture, 49: 57–65.
World Bank (2021): DataBank. World Development Indicators. [Dataset]. Available at (accessed June 21, 2021).
Wuthnow R. (2015): In the Blood. Understanding America's Farm Families. Princeton, US, Princeton University Press: 95–118.
Zagata L. (2009): How organic farmers view their own practice: Results from the Czech Republic. Agriculture and Human Values, 27: 277–290.
Zagata L., Hrabák J., Lošťák M. (2019): Post-socialist transition as a driving force of the sustainable agriculture: A case study from the Czech Republic. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 44: 238–257.
download PDF

© 2022 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Prohlášení o přístupnosti