Food Production during the Transition to Capitalism: A Comparative Political Economy of Russia and China

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Food Production during the Transition to Capitalism: A Comparative Political Economy of Russia and China

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Title: Food Production during the Transition to Capitalism: A Comparative Political Economy of Russia and China
Author: Hamm, Patrick
Citation: Hamm, Patrick. 2012. Food Production during the Transition to Capitalism: A Comparative Political Economy of Russia and China. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: The principal analytical objective of this dissertation is the assessment of changes in the political economy of food production during the transition from socialism to capitalism in Russia and China. The dissertation is equally interested in the consequences of this transition for human welfare resulting from changes in the availability of food. As a conditio sine qua non for human survival, food serves as an objective yardstick for human welfare. By studying changes in the political economy of food production it is therefore possible to draw general inferences regarding the welfare implications of the transition to capitalism in Russia and China. This dissertation uses a combination of classical political economy and comparative institutional analysis: The three empirical chapters show how changes in state objectives result in the formulation of economic policies that in turn shape the organization of food production - with momentous consequences for the Russian and Chinese people. Both countries achieved a significant increase in the output and variety of food, yet new problems concerning the availability, quality, and safety of food products have resulted from the introduction of markets. These problems are not externalities, but rather constitute a necessary consequence of the establishment of a market economy in which profit-oriented actors engage in competitive exchange without regard for human welfare. As a result, both countries are compelled to balance their desire for economic growth with the provision of sufficient and adequate food to their populations. An in-depth comparison of the development trajectories of two agro-industrial sectors (wheat and pig production) moreover reveals a convergence in government policy and economic institutions, indicating that Russia and China no longer represent alternative transition models. Following the reassertion of state authority during the first Putin presidency, the Russian government adopted an extensive agricultural modernization program, which strongly resembled China's existing state-guided reform strategy. Recently, both governments have taken active steps towards increasing the global competitiveness of their food economies, while intervening in markets as needed to ensure domestic food security. This demonstrates the centrality of the state in establishing and administering a capitalist economy.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9556127
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