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Peasant Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3 & 4 (Spring & Summer 1992) PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi I Introduction The work of James C. Scott has, over the last twenty years, made a profound impression upon the study ofthe economy and society ofpeasants. In the 1970s Scott made a seminal contribution to the study of the circum stances which promote peasant rebellion. In the 1980s Scott had an even greater impact when he studied the forms by which peasants carry out re sistance to perceived injustice. Since he first presented these latter insights Scott's approach to peasant studies has informed a veritable "school" of work. Much of the work of Scott's followers comes nowhere near the rich ness, elegance and rigor of his own work. Regardless, it is now the case that any detailed investigation of peasant life can no longer choose to refuse to engage the questions that he has raised. In this sense, Scott has affected the very nature of the discipline in which he works. Scott's work has not however gone unchallenged. For example, in a recent paper Hart has drawn attention to Scott's ungendered mode of analy sis (Hart (1991]). Hart argues that a gendered analysis raises doubts about some of the central assumptions which inform his work, and particularly "the processes through which class identity is produced or undermined" (Hart : 117). On the other hand, Brass has argued that Scott's work assists in providing Chayanovian theory...with its missing politico-ideo logical dimension" (Brass : 174). Brass goes on to argue that central to Scott's work are efforts to deny the core of the modernist project, namely the grand narrative of history-as-progress. Brass argues that such "a proce dure ... banishes emancipation" (Brass : 183). Clearly then the work of Scott has been as controversial as it has been influential. The purpose of the present paper is to contribute to the contro- f 180 PEASANT STUDIES versy. This paper will closely examine the framework used by Scott. It will argue that his analysis can be criticized for having an insufficient command of the concept of hegemony. Scott conceives of hegemony as the compliant acquiescence of subordinate groups to the dominant ideology. His account of everyday forms of resistance confronts such an approach. However, Scott is misdirecting his censure. It will be argued that hegemony negotiates the unification of multiple social realities in a manner consistent with class domination. Everyday forms of resistance are a vent for inconsistent indi vidual experience which do not threaten such domination. Interestingly, the critique of Scott which is developed lays the groundwork for the use of many of his ethnographic insights by a currently unfashionable approach, that of agrarian marxism. The plan of the paper is as follows. The following section outlines Scott's analytic framework. Such a discussion highlights both the central role of ideological contestation in Scott's understanding of peasant social relationships and his misgivings concerning the concept of hegemony. Sections III and IV critically assess his understanding of he gemony and develop an alternative formulation of hegemony. The alterna tive formulation is both consistent with classical marxist analysis of the agrarian question and with aspects of Scott's methodology. Section V offers some final remarks. II. Scott on the Peasantry i) The moral economy Scott's theorization of the social relations of peasant life is rooted in the analysis of his first book, The Moral Economy of the Peasant (Scott ). In that work, Scott's starting point is that peasants are exposed to subsistence risks. Efforts to avoid such risks impact upon both the technical and social arrangements which surround the production process of the peas ant. For example, "[t]he use of more than one seed variety" or "European traditional farming on scattered strips" are "classical techniques for avoid ing undue risks" (Scott : 306). More importantly for the thrust of his argument, Scott also argues that social arrangements such as "patterns of reciprocity, forced generosity, communal land and work-sharing" (Scott : 305) reduce risk by acting as a form of insurance which produces, through redistributive mechanisms and social pressures, an assured mini mum standard ofliving for all members of a peasant community. He argues PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 181 that in exchange for such an entitlement a peasant has to forego some status and some autonomy. He thus conceives of the social relations of peasant life as being forged around a kind of tacit "social contract" (Scott : 345) which is based upon a community-specific "vision of social equity" (Scott : 306). Such a vision is not egalitarian but is rather "socially experienced as a pattern of moral rights" (Scott : 307) which are both implied and reciprocal in character. Within a peasant community there are thus a set of expectations and preferences about relations between the well-to-do and the poor. By and large, these expectations are cast in the idioms of patronage, assistance, consideration, and helpful ness. They apply to employment, tenancy, charity, feast giving, and the conduct of daily social encounter. They imply that those who meet these expectations will be treated with respect, loyalty, and social recognition. What is involved.. .is a kind of"politics ofrepu tation" (Scott : 184-5), a politics which constructs the "moral context of village life" (Scott : 184). It is this construction which Scott defines as the "moral economy" of the peasant: a peasant's "notion of economic justice and their working defi nition of exploitation- their view of which claims on their product [are] tolerable and which [are] intolerable" (Scott : 306). The moral econ omy, derived as it is from a peasantry's subsistence ethic, thus defines by reference to the entire community the parameters of what is an acceptable claim on productive activity. . Scott argues that in general the colonial and postcolonial periods un dermined the moral economy. This is because they have served to erode the reciprocal expectations upon which it was based. Capitalist development has weakened the dependencies of previous production relations by facili tating a deepening economic polarization within communities. The result of such polarization has been a divergence between the members of a com munity in their perception of the unspoken "rules" governing social rela tions. For the emergent elite, capitalist development has altered their position within mechanisms of surplus appropriation. Such changes to the "normative raw materials" (Scott : 309) from which the rules ofsocial relations were derived renders the old practices invalid. Scott argues that, l 1 182 PEASANT STUDIES as a consequence, the emergent elite will be no longer willing to underwrite the provision of subsistence insurance. Instead, the new elite prefers that orthodox capitalist mechanisms of domination such as the market and the state be allowed to function for the benefit of the better-off. By way of contrast, for the subordinate classes the increased insecurity surrounding the subsistence ethic which comes with capitalist development represents a violation of the previously understood moral economy. For these classes that which has been lost becomes their reference point for restoration. Scott thus argues that capitalist development results in a disagreement between the members of a moral economy concerning the customs governing social relations within the moral economy. According to Scott, this sows the seeds of social conflict. Scott's views on social conflict, and particularly on the capacity of the poor to attempt collectively to restore the violated parameters of the moral economy, developed considerably between 1976 and 1985. In 1976, he argued that the violation of the moral economy by the rich had consistently led to "indignation and rage which prompted [peasants] to risk every thing... [and thus] come to provide ... the shock troops ofrebellion and revo lution" (Scott : 306). While Scott conceived of such rebellions as defensive, backward-looking revolts of consumers which did not by and large succeed, he maintained that collective action remained the logical outcome of the violation of the conventions of community relations. When Scott wrote in 1985 that "revolution ...now seems all but fore closed" (Scott : 350), it was apparent that his self-professed pessi mism had led to an important development in his argument. As in 1976, the violation of the moral economy "by the rich generates efforts by the poor to resist...economic and ritual marginalization" (Scott : xviii). As in 1976, such efforts are defensive and backward looking, appealing to vio lated values of equity and community constructed around a subsistence ethic disregarded by the rich .. By 1985 however the content of the effort to secure retribution had been radically transformed. The anger which had previously fostered collective action he had reworked into "everyday forms of peasant resistance" consisting of "the ordinary weapons of relatively powerless groups: foot dragging, dissimulation, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance, slander, arson, sabotage, and so forth" (Scott : 29). Being by and large individualistic and spontaneous, these "weapons JI PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 183 of the weak" "require little or no coordination or planning; they often rep resent a form of individual self-help; and they typically avoid any direct symbolic confrontation with authority or with elite norms" (Scott : 29). Scott argued, however, that everyday forms of resistance share with public confrontations the intention to mitigate or deny claims made by superordinate classes or to ad vance claims vis-a-vis those superordinate classes. Such claims have ordinarily to do with the material nexus of class struggle-the appropriation of land, labor, taxes, rents, and so forth. Where eve ryday resistance most strikingly departs from other forms of resis tance is its implicit disavowal of public and symbolic goals (Scott : 32-3). Scott presents two fundamental reasons for the disavowal of overt public resistance. In so doing, he develops themes found in his work of the 1970s. First, as in the earlier work there remains the continuing and indeed deep ening need for "a social insurance policy" which guards "against the thou sand contingencies of agrarian life" (Scott : 24). In such circumstances, public acts of defiance make little sense because insurance is built by a record of deferential behaviour, service at feasts and house movings, a willingness to work without quibbling too much about wages, and tacit support for the village leadership. It brings tangible rewards in terms of employment, charity, help at time of death or illness, and access to whatever subsidies the ruling party in the village has to distribute. It brings intangible rewards in terms of inclusion both in the informal pleasantries and in the rituals of village life (Scott [1985): 24). Further, Scott notes that subordinate classes are "under no illusions about the outcome of a direct assault" (Scott : 22) on the rich as an alternative means of attaining subsistence guarantees. Probability of failure in collective efforts brings with it the certainty of severe retaliation in the form of a further denial of subsistence guarantees. Coupled to the need for a subsistence guarantee must thus also be added the superior coercive strength of the rich. Such strength pushes subordinate classes to remain wedded to individual, private acts of resistance. 184 l PEASANT STUDIES Second, Scott argues that the underlying need for collective, public action to redress violations of the moral economy is reduced through the use of everyday forms of resistance. It seems fair to state that Scott believes that the deployment of the weapons of the weak demonstrates the highly contingent nature of the implicit social contract underpinning the moral economy. This contingency is the result of the processes of ideological formation which occurs within peasant communities, a phenomena to which Scott devotes a good deal of attention in his later work. Scott argues that in the circumstances of peasant life the different ma terial environment people face and the different concrete practices they consequently pursue will produce divergent interpretations of "seemingly straightforward social facts" (Scott : 304). He thus believes that in dividual experience provides the foundation of both understanding and ac tion. He goes on to argue that amongst the members of a community there must be differing sets of values, sets of values which are derived from alternative experiences and which have "major points of friction and cor respondence" (Scott : 41). For the members of the community it is the resolution of the friction between alternative ideologies which is vital to the securing of a subsistence guarantee. Scott is clear on this point: within a community superordinate and subordinate classes have competing ide ologies. The site of such a resolution is the ideological contest between what comes to be deemed as acceptable social values and what comes to be deemed as unacceptable social values. Scott thus appears to believe that a broadly understood definition of the acceptable will forge a peasant com munity into a moral economy. Capitalist development undermines the moral economy by shifting the terrain of what is acceptable to particular members of a community, thus creating a fresh site of contestation between the alternative ideologies of the superordinate and the subordinate classes. The struggle over the appro priate definition of economic justice within a moral economy in turn be comes "a contest...to control the concepts and symbols by which current experience is evaluated" (Scott : 27) by the members of a community. Conflicts over meaning and value can be expressed through language, sym bolic acts and culture: the weapons of the weak. The use of the weapons of the weak represents an opportunity for the poor to pursue "incessant and offensive action" (Brass : 183) against the well-to-do, action which PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 185 by being both atomistic and private is relatively safe from reprisal against remaining subsistence guarantees. Action may consist "of words, feints and counterfeints, threats, a skirmish or two, and, above all, propaganda (Scott [1985): 22). Scott argues that the continued symbolic slander of the rich by the poor can be taken to demonstrate the extent to which social facts are contested, the extent to which the rich may have authority but not control, and the extent to which the values of the rich and the poor diverge. Despite the widespread use of such "small arms fire in the class war" (Scott [1985): Ch.I) Scott argues that the continuing need for subsistence guarantees amongst the poor can lead them to accommodate "themselves publicly to ... [changing] social relations" (Scott [1985): 306). Concurrently, however, subordinate classes are "continually striving to redefine [social relations] to their advantage" (Scott [1985): 306) through the use of indi vidualistic, private and symbolic everyday forms of resistance. In determi nate material circumstances the deployment of the weapons of the weak are indicative of the reemergence of a fundamental ideological conflict between rich and poor over meaning and values, in which the poor appeal to the past and the rich appeal to the present. ii) Hegemony and the moral economy ofthe peasant Scott argues that given both the presence of a fundamental if unresolved ideological conflict and the pursuit of private, atomistic acts of resistance it is at the level of beliefs rather than action that subordinate classes are most radical in their dealings with superordinate social forces. In turn, the assignation of a pivotal role to ideological conflict in the circumstances surrounding the emergence of everyday acts of resistance leads Scott to question the efficacy of the concept of hegemony. For Scott hegemony is a process of ideological domination. The central idea behind it is the claim that the ruling class dominates not only the means of physical production but the means of symbolic production as well. Its control over the material forces of production is replicated, at the level of ideas, in its control over the ideological "sectors" of society--cul ture, religion, education, and the media-in a manner which allows it to disseminate those values that reinforce its position (Scott [1985): 315). I 186 PEASANT STUDIES Scott discounts the theoretical sustainability of such a conception of hegemony. He argues that such an approach substitutes "a kind of ideologi cal determinism for the material determinism" (Scott : 317) found in much orthodox marxist work and is as such subject to the same kind of pitfalls as the latter. He gives five reasons to support his proposition that the ideological determinism found in the concept of hegemony is theoretically unsustain able. First, he argues that "the concept of hegemony ignores the extent to which most subordinate classes are able ...to penetrate and demystify the prevailing ideology" (Scott : 317). Second, he b.elieves that hegem ony confuses the pragmatic resignation of subaltern classes with a legiti mation of class domination. Third, he argues that hegemony is at best an idealization which contains within it the nucleus of a critique when such ideals are not attained; as a result, the initial ideal can never be truly hegemonic. Fourth, the limited aims of most mass action indicates the lack of a need for the development of an all-encompassing counter-hegemonic ideology to challenge existing structures. Lastly, he argues that when alter native ideologies do emerge "the breaking of the norms and values of a dominant ideology is typically the work of the bearers of a·new mode of production" (Scott : 318) and is not done by subaltern classes. Taken together, Scott argues that "the notion ofhegemony...not only fail[s] to make sense of class relations ...but also [is] just as likely to mislead us seriously in understanding class conflict in most situations" (Scott : 317). The exposition of the ideas of James Scott given above attempts to demonstrate the broad continuity in his work. His account ofeveryday forms of peasant resistance builds upon and substantially develops the concept of the moral economy. In particular, the implicit denial of ideological domi nation within peasant communities found in his 1970s work becomes cen tral to his analysis of peasant resistance in his 1980s work. It is to this very important aspect of his work that the paper now gives its critical attention. III. The question of hegemony Scott's doubts concerning hegemony are not surprising. Questioning the efficacy of the concept is of central importance to his overall theoretical approach. It is only as a result of such questions that he is able to posit an autonomous role for subordinate classes in the implicit bargaining processes PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 187 surrounding the construction of the moral economy. Further, when the moral economy comes under pressure from the forces of capitalist development, his doubts permit him to attempt to establish the reality of the reemergence of a previously dormant yet ever-present ideological conflict which leads to the use of the weapons of the weak. The existence ofhegemonic structures of the sort criticized by Scott would certainly diminish the extent to which subordinate classes could be viewed as independent social actors capable of sustained yet private resistance. His reasoning is not so much mistaken as it is misdirected. Many users of the concept of hegemony would support the position that peasants are aware of their subordinate social position but do not challenge that position because of the overwhelming need to get on with the often mundane but necessary intricacies of day-to-day life. Similarly, many would accept that peasants construct alternatives from within the bounds of their own expe rience. Finally, any student of history would recognize the central role of newly-emerging classes in shaping the development of ideology. For many social theorists Scott's points are not only broadly acceptable but they also do not compromise the concept of hegemony. The grounds on which Scott questions the logic of hegemony are thus still not entirely apparent. In order to make Scott's position clearer, it is useful to examine his account of the origin the idea of hegemony. Scott traces the concept of hegemony back to The German Ideology where Marx and Engels wrote that the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental produc tion ...The individuals composing the ruling class ... rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the idea of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch (quoted in Scott (1985]: 315; see also Marx and Engels (1965]). Scott traces a consistent lineage in the development of the concept of hegemony, from Marx and Engels, through Lenin to Gramsci, and up to Miliband and Althusser. He argues however that the pivotal figure in the development of the concept of hegemony was Gramsci. Scott recognizes that Gramsci's Prison Notebooks can be read in a multiplicity of ways, and 188 PEASANT S TIJDIES as a result it is not clear the extent to which Gramsci believed hegemony to be voluntary or involuntary, complete or incomplete (Scott [ 1 985] : 3 1 6). Despite such difficulties, however, Scott advances an authoritative reading of Gramsci. He states that Gramsci believed that elites control the "ideological sectors" of society-culture, religion, education, and media-and can thereby engineer consent for their rule. By creating and disseminating a universe of discourse and the concepts that go with it, by defining the standards of what is true, beautiful, moral, fair, and legitimate, they build a symbolic climate that prevents subordinate classes from thinking their way free (Scott [ 1 985]: 39). l i l As a result, the "substratum of values and perceptions" of subordinate classes are "socially determined from above" (Scott [ 1 985]: 3 1 6} His reading of Gramsci is however subject to a fundamental problem. In asserting a linear development of the concept of hegemony from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, Scott is in effect arguing that hegemony is but a moment in the development of what has come to be known as "false consciousness." Indeed, he maintains that there is a close relationship between hegemony and false consciousness (Scott [ 1 985] : 3 1 51 7). The proximity of the relationship between Scott's conceptualization of hegemony and false consciousness can be further witnessed in a standard definition of the latter, whereby false consciousness is seen to be a phe nomenon which "conceals the contradictory character of the hidden essen tial pattern by focusing upon the way in which the economic relations appear on the surface ... (It is) a negative ... concept. It is negative because it involves a distortion, a misrepresentation of contradictions" (Larrain [ 1 983] : 222). Dominant classes distort contradictions in order to sustain their posi tion. Scott's equation of hegemony with false consciousness is still further indicated by his choice of words such as control, create, dictate, engineer, penetrate and prevent. These words present a vision of social forces impos ing a particular conception of social relations upon subaltern groups, an imposition which both originates outside the lived experience of the sub alterns and which is detrimental to their position within the relations of production. PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 189 Yet as Sassoon notes "hegemony... cannot be reduced to legitimation, false consciousness, or manipulation of the mass of the population" (Sas soon [ 1 983]: 202). By asserting a linear form to the development of the concept ofhegemony, Scott does not recognize the extent ofthe elaboration, evolution and indeed transformation that resulted from Gramsci 's theoreti cal excursions when he explored the idea in the 1 930s. As a result of his theoretical reformulations, Gramsci rendered obsolete much ofthe prevail ing understanding of false consciousness. There was, to a significant degree, an epistemological break. Gramsci rerouted theory by advancing an explanation of the political economy of ideological formation, within which ideological forms and practices could be both consistent with classical marxist analysis and with the relative autonomy of subj ectivity. Gramsci conceived of hegemony as a fabric of domination woven from multiple social realities. This fabric was constructed by determinate social forces. Fundamental to such construction was the capacity of the dominant classes to compromise narrow class in terests, if necessary by meeting to a limited extent certain demands of sub ordinate classes. The purpose of such compromises was to secure consent to class domination and thus unite society behind the power ofthe dominant class. By crudely equating hegemony with false consciousness, Scott fails to take account ofthe role ofcompromise and consent. He thus demonstrates the extent to which he does not fully appreciate the essence of Gramsci 's theory of hegemony. In order to sustain the validity of such an argument, it is useful to com pare and contrast Scott's understanding ofhegemony with one derived from the work of Gramsci. It is not proposed that the derivation of the political economy of ideological formation offered below is in some sense the "cor rect'' reading of Gramsci. Rather, it is presented because it opens up inter esting possibilities regarding Scott's rich ethnographic insights. IV Scott, Gramsci and the fabric ofdomination The domain within which hegemony is or is not constructed is that of ideas and ideology. Scott argues that an ideology is "a critique of things as they are as well as a vision of things as they should be" (Scott [ 1 985]: 23). Ideology is thus "a generic term for the processes by which meaning is produced, challenged, reproduced, transformed" (Barrett [ 1 980] : 97). 190 PEASANT STUDIES Through the transformation of experience into meaning ideology invests individuals with subjectivity. Scott argues that within Gramsci's theoriza tion of hegemony such subjectivity and indeed such ideology is in fact a false consciousness, one which is imposed upon subaltern classes by social forces located outside the realm of lived experience. He argues that such a conception is wrong. For Scott, meaning must come from within the realm of lived experience. Gramsci's understanding of subjectivity is not the one put forward by · Scott. According to Gramsci, subjectivity is not imposed rather, it is nego tiated within determinate material conditions: "it may be ruled out that immediate economic crises of themselves produce fundamental historical events; they can simply create a terrain more favourable to the dissemination of certain modes of thought, and certain ways of posing and resolving ques tions" (Gramsci [ 1 971]: 184). The material terrain is thus a framework, an arena of ideological nego tiation and struggle between social forces, including classes, within which several outcomes are possible. That this is consistent with Scott's own ap proach can be seen in both his remark that "social being determines social consciousness" (Scott [ 1985]: 38) in determining the selection of possible alternative courses of action and in his central emphasis on continued class contestation. Yet Gramsci did not merely prefigure Scott. As will be dem onstrated, Scott's understanding ofsubjectivity differs from that ofGramsci. Gramsci assigned a central role to class relationships in the negotiation of subjectivity. He believed that dominant class forces would pursue strate gies that furthered outcomes favorable to the sustenance of their continued domination. A necessary but not sufficient condition for the furtherance of favorable outcomes was unity. Gramsci argued that a "historical act can only be performed by a collective man, and this presupposes the attainment of a "cultural-social unity" through which dispersed wills, with hetero genous aims, are welded together on the basis of an equal and common perception of the world" (Gramsci : 349). Gramsci thus argued that an integral aspect of the negotiation of subjectivity was the construction of "an equal and common perception of the world." For Gramsci, "dispersed wills" are welded together into a common perception upon the explicitly ideological terrain of what he termed "com mon sense": "a chaotic aggregate of disparate conceptions" (Gramsci PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTI 19 1 : 422), a set ofattitudes, moral views and empirical beliefs reflecting an individual's concrete experiences in society but lacking in consistency or cohesion. The need to render individual experience cohesive so as to transform it into meaning was at the core of the process by which subjec tivity was negotiated. Again, first impressions would indicate the broad similarity of Scott's position with that of Gramsci. Echoing Gramsci, Scott writes that "the study of class relations ... (is) a study of meaning and experience" (Scott : 45). Scott then goes on to argue that "divergent understandings are... rooted in daily experience" (Scott : 319). It is therefore the case that "for class to become a social reality it must become a subculture ofshared values, social contact and distinctive life-styles. This distinctiveness may take a variety of forms: language, dress, religion, ethnicity, residence, shared his tory, and so forth" (Scott : 276). For Scott the development of such distinctiveness is "anchored in a host of commonplace material practices" (Scott : 305). Determinate shared material conditions thus permits the peasantry to construct a "relative cultural autonomy" (Scott : 275) based upon "its own cultural tradi tions... and.. .its own shadow institutions" (Scott : 21). This in turn becomes the basis by which peasantries forge themselves into a cohesive community capable of engagement with other classes in the context of implicit negotiations over subsistence guarantees. The outcome of such implicit bargaining between social forces is the construction of a moral economy, an economy which is predicated upon the cultural specificity of the negotiating sides. Scott's implicit bargaining model of class relations is flawed in two ways. First, Scott provides no insight into precisely how a common culture is constructed. When Scott writes of a peasantry's "cultural traditions" and "shadow institutions," the agents and instruments by which the phenomena of the past become the culture of the present are not described, other than by vague references to the material circumstances. Yet it is only through a specification of the agents and instruments of cultural construction that it becomes possible to understand why only particular "values" and "tradi tions" become integral to culture, and thus why experience comes to be interpreted in a given, meaningful way. PEASANT STUDIES 192 Second, the relative cultural autonomy ascribed to the peasantry by Scott is at best based upon a "partial transcript" of the complete range of peasant experience. He explicitly presents cultural construction as a process which occurs within a class. At the same time however he recognizes that "the rich have the social power generally to impose their view of seemly behaviour on the poor" (Scott [ 1 985]: 24). Yet at no point does he adequately examine the ways in which the relationship between classes can dynami cally interact with the construction of a culture within a class. That such a dynamic is important cannot be a matter of dispute, given the relational character of classes and class formation. He thus ignores a central aspect of cultural construction in his implicit bargaining model. Gramsci addressed both of these issues. He did so through the intro duction of a fresh analytic category: the intellectuals. What Gramsci termed "organic intellectuals" are the thinking and organizing element of a particular fundamental social class. These organic intellectuals are distinguished less by their profession, which may be any job characteristic of their class, but by their function in directing the ideas and aspirations of the class to which they organically belong (Hoare [ 1 97 1 ]: 3). Intellectuals arise because every social group, coming into existence on the original terrain of an essential function in the world of economic production, creates together with itself, organically, one or more strata of intellectuals which give it homogeneity and an awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields (Gramsd [ 1 971]: 5). The role of organic intellectuals is thus to render common sense con sistent by mediating the transformation of lived experience into "aware ness" and meaning. Gramsci therefore conceived of the agents which inscribe meaning during the negotiation of subjectivity as being a specific social group within a class. Intellectuals do not however only foment unity on a economic, social and political plane within the dominant class; they also translate this unity PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 1 93 into a moral and intellectual leadership which transcends class divisions. As Gramsci argued, the intellectuals are the dominant group's "deputies" exercising the subaltern functions of social hegemony and political government. These comprise: 1. The "spontaneous" consent given by great masses of the population to the general direction imposed upon social life by the dominant fundamental group (Gramsci : 12). Intellectuals of the superordinate class mediate the lived experience of subaltern classes through reflection, interpretation and explanation. As a result they invest it with a meaning that is consistent with both empirical observation and class domination. The ideologies which arise from the me diation of experience "have a validity that is psychological" (Gramsci : 377) due to the fact that while their concrete content is premised upon the moral and intellectual leadership of a dominant class force it must be consistent with the lived experience of the subaltern social forces. Sub ordination is thus not externally imposed but, more crucially, through the mediation of the intellectuals, is internalized as a part ofculture, conscious ness and identity. Intellectuals thus give flesh to bare skeletons of subordi nation by building the moral and intellectual hegemony necessary for domination to be reproduced through a broad social consensus rooted in a common culture which unifies multiple material realities. The attainment of this result Gramsci characterized as a "historic bloc," an alliance of social forces led by the dominant class force. Gramsci's analysis of the construction of hegemony can be applied across a range of social relationships. For example, it can be used to under stand the processes by which gendered identities are constructed and gender relations cemented (see Akram-Lodhi : Ch.3). It should however be noted that with regards to the peasantry Gramsci argued that "the mass of the peasantry, although it performs an essential function in the world of production, does not elaborate its own 'organic' intellectuals" (Gramsci 26 : 6). Hoare states that "Gramsci's general argurnent...is that the per son of peasant origin who becomes an 'intellectual' (priest, lawyer, etc.) generally thereby ceases to be organically linked to his class of origin" (Hoare, in Gramsci : 6). 1 94 PEASANT STUDIES Gramsci's position that the peasantry is unable to elaborate its own organic intellectuals is however open to question. In a masterly obituary, Byres has demonstrated that the Indian politician Charan Singh, of Jat peasant stock, became a lawyer, but did not "cease to be organically linked to his class of origin." On the con trary, he was, for most ofhis adult life, quintessentially an "organic" intellectual, "directing the ideas and aspirations of the [rich peasant] class to which he organically belonged," and, without doubt, gave that class a "homogeneity and awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields" (Byres [1988): 168). I If Charan Singh was unusual in this regard, he was by no means unique. Other examples can be deployed to demonstrate that on this point Gramsci was mistaken: the peasantry is capable of elaborating its own organic in tellectuals. Regardless of the acceptability or otherwise of such a position, the life of Charan Singh does illustrate an aspect of the intellectuals which was central to Gramsci's conception of their role within peasantries; namely, that irrespective of their origin the intellectuals act as a fulcrum, linking class as a structural phenomenon with class as a lived experience. At the level of everyday experience, the role of the organic intellectuals is to render acceptable vertical relations of exploitation which are a part of day-to-day village life. That is why hegemony can be so resilient. It is not some distant, external social institution imposing its mode of thinking but is rather a neighbor, a friend, a priest, a teacher: someone who can shape and structure subjective experience through their ability to interpret it. The capacity of an individual to assist in the explanation of diverse events cannot but act to render peasant social structures more cohesive. At the same time, however, village level relations of exploitation must be made consistent with aggregate social structures of domination. Here too the intellectuals play a key role, horizontally integrating village and community social structures with regional and national relations of produc tion. Indeed, Scott provides a good example of this process in his exami nation of the role of the national ruling political party in the village (Scott ). Active party participants-and indeed, active members of the op- PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 1 95 position party-assist in shaping the meaning derived from everyday oc currences. At the same time, through their links with regional and national political machines, village politics are integrated into the wider political economy and its attendant relations ofproduction. Another example of such processes can be provided by religion, which can both adapt to fit local needs and realities and yet remain broadly consistent with wider political and economic forces. The intellectuals are thus a crucial agent in the struc ture of class domination. By cementing horizontal and structural social relations with vertical and experiential social relations, they allow expansive processes of capital accumulation to be integrally tied in with individual ized, village-level realities. Scott fails to recognize the dual, structural and experiential nature of hegemony. This is because to Scott hegemony has no internal dynamic. Rather, it is an external force that is imposed from outside a community. He writes that peasants have a culture which is "frequently antithetical to the values of hegemonic institutions" (Scott [ 1 977]: 278), institutions that are "most firmly rooted in the state and among ruling elites" (Scott [ 1 977] : 27 5) and which must "penetrate the rural sector and organize the experience of the peasantry" (Scott 1 977]: 273). The consistent impression given is that hegemony is an alien force, one that is far removed from peasant ex perience. As has been demonstrated, this is not Gramsci's conception of hegemony, for it is not rooted in the mediation of reality by individuals within the peasant community itself. It is interesting to note that Scott's own approach raises questions con cerning village-level ideological formation which he fails to satisfactorily answer. As has already been noted, he writes that the peasantry is "heir to a culture" that is "passed along by word of mouth from generation to gen eration" (Scott [ 1 977] : 275, 282). In this process, "the oral traditions of the peasantry are plastic: they are embroidered and transformed according to the needs of social groups" (Scott [ 1 977]: 283). He thus recognizes that cultural transmission is subject to intervention. The process ofcultural trans mission conflicts with Scott's understanding that hegemony is imposed from outside; he therefore dismisses the relevance of hegemony. Such a dismissal allows him to avoid investigating what for Gramsci would be key aspects of the hegemonic process: who is passing along the traditions, and in whose interests are they being transformed? ! J � 1 196 PEASANT STUDIES There are, however, reasons behind Scott's failure to adequately address these important aspects of cultural transmission. As has already been stressed, his analysis falls short in its discussion of the process by which hegemony is constructed within a village setting and as a result has no means of investigating the process of cultural transmission. More funda mentally, to address these issues he would have to accept that hegemony is not an alien force but is rather a localized process which reflects differential interests within a village. The basis of such differential interests would to some extent have to be material, rooted in both unequal access to assets such as land and capital and in alternative productive purposes. Differential access to the means of production and differential productive purposes would in turn however require an acceptance oflocalized processes ofagrar ian class formation. There can however be little doubt that this position would be anathema to Scott, who often refers to the peasantry as a single, unified social class. He thus writes that "the pattern of resistance to hegemonic thought that we find in so many peasant cultures may be traced to precisely those characteristics that distinguish the peasantry as a class" (Scott : 288). That class is composed of "small-holding as well as share-cropping and tenant cultivators who have some degree of control over the production process" (Scott : 267). While he accepts that there may be a range of interests within the peasant class, he consistently refuses to accept the argument that as a social entity the peasantry may in fact be fragmenting into distinct social classes, with different relationships to the means of production. Scott's approach limits the focus of his ethnographic insights. It is thus the case that when attempting to establish the class status of households, his methodology relies upon establishing differences between land-poor and land-rich farms, small and large farms, income levels and tenancy ar rangements. These are then compressed into the categories "rich" and "poor," regardless of the fact that Scott fails to precisely define the meaning of each category. The arbitrary and inconsistent nature ofsuch an approach is illustrated by three of the households on which his 1985 work is based. Scott groups together a household owning and operating 11.5 relong, a household that exclusively rents in 4 relong, and a household that exclu sively leases out 9.75 relong (Scott : Table 4.1). The vastly different characteristics of these households in terms of production possibilities PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 1 97 means that they may have differing production purposes. If such is indeed the case, it is possible that they do not occupy similar locations in the set of production relations within which they are enmeshed. What is therefore required is a more rigorous method of specifying the class status of these households, one which locates them according to their position within a set ofproduction relations (see for example Patnaik [ 1 987]). At the same time, absence of a rigorous treatment of class status and differentiation has im portant implications for his understanding of everyday forms of peasant resistance. Simply put, the use of everyday forms of peasant resistance by households may imply different things to households in different classes, in a way which is quite different to that put forward by Scott. Scott's problem in ascertaining the class status of households is rooted in his essentially neo-populist approach. According to neo-populism the peasantry is a fairly homogenous class able to operate in relative isolation from markets and hence evaluating production according to non.market cri teria. Such an approach does not seem far removed from Scott's analysis. Neo-populism does not locate hegemony within a village community; to do so would imply differentiation within a village, which would not be consistent with its general tenets. It is his recognition of neo-populism that leads Brass to argue that despite Scott's extensive use of the language of class, '"class' is either used incorrectly, questioned, downgraded or re jected" (Brass [ 1 99 1 ] : 1 79). Peasant class differentiation is of course a central facet of the agrarian marxist approach. Placing some of Scott's rich ethnographic insights within a creative agrarian marxist approach allows these insights to be integrated within a framework which is both more rigorous in its deployment of class and more nuanced in its exploration of the political economy of ideological formation and conflict. According to agrarian marxism, the emergence of the possibility of market-oriented reproductive strategies amongst house holds in the context of villages undergoing processes of capitalist develop ment leads to a transformation in property relations and the formation of agrarian classes. As stratification amongst households takes place, emerg ing dominant classes can be expected to seek to secure consent to a direction of development consistent with continued accumulation. Scott is correct in arguing that the construction of hegemony requires particular interests to be presented as universal, in order to facilitate an accession to relations of 198 PEASANT STUDIES l exploitation. Gramsci's understanding of the construction of hegemony is however superior to Scott's. For Gramsci, the construction of hegemony is performed by the organic intellectuals of the dominant class, who negotiate the subjectivity of subaltern classes in a manner which invests common sense with a meaning consistent with both lived experience and class ex ploitation. An .acceptable notion of exploitation is thus constructed, in the sense that surplus extractions do not invite immediate and sustained retali ation. Such a process Scott calls the establishment of a moral economy. If such is the case, then the establishment of the moral economy is no more than the establishment ofhegemony, a process whose basis lies in changing material relationships. The construction ofhegemony within a village does not however imply the creation of a monolithic, all-encompassing set of ideas. As Gramsci stressed, hegemony is a process of interpretation, mediation and negotia tion, and as such the ideologies formed through the process can never be universal. This is because such ideologies cannot successfully give meaning to all the experiences ofall the people all of the time. Hegemonic ideologies therefore cannot produce total, unyielding acceptance to all the actions car ried out by dominant classes. Indeed, this is not the purpose of hegemony. Rather, the construction of hegemony involves the acquisition of consent to the broad contours of class domination. Along with a general acceptance of the broad contours of exploitation comes the possibility if not in fact the probability of dissent, when explication fails to render common sense con sistent. When ideological constructions fail, the possibility of struggle emerges. Scott is thus absolutely correct to assert that members of subor dinate classes may not view domination as inevitable. Similarly, dominant classes do not view domination as inevitable and monolithic. If individual fissures in hegemony emerge, dominant classes can be expected to deploy organic intellectuals in an attempt to renegotiate subjectivity. The successful fruition of such a process is however unlikely to be immediate or inevitable because it comprises a process ofnegotiation over the meaning of lived experience. Dissent within a village over the social structures of domination can therefore be expected despite the pres ence of hegemony. With the possibility of dissent comes the form by which dissent is ex pressed. Atomistic, individualistic and private acts allow resistance to be PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 199 expressed in a way which does not threaten the basis of class power and which at the same time can form the foundation upon which subjectivity is renegotiated so as to resecure a broad consent to class domination. The recurrence of everyday forms ofpeasant resistance could thus act as a safety valve for dominant classes, because such acts do not challenge the over arching structure ofhegemony and indeed can positively assist in preventing the creation of militant counter-hegemonic struggle. The weapons of the weak can thus be taken to express the fact that hegemony is never all-en compassing but is rather contingent, being concerned with broadening and deepening the scope of consent. Given this perspective, Scott's formulation of peasant resistance and rebellion is open to doubt. The history of peasant resistance and rebellion is one which does not blindly adhere to a normative past, as asserted by Scott. Rather, as the moral economy breaks down the weapons of the weak may transform into collective action by using the past as a building block for the future. The refashioning of the past in order to build the future can occur in a myriad of ways, encompassing the process of cultural transmis sion, the invention of tradition, and everyday acts of resistance. However, the precondition of building a potentially successful transformative move ment is to unify atomistic struggles into collective action. Precisely because of their content, on their own the deployment of the weapons of the weak cannot bring about a better future for those marginalized by capitalist de velopment. Indeed, even Scott recognizes the at best partial role played by the weapons of the weak in the resistance to dominant class power. Despite such a recognition however Scott downplays the possibility of class-for-it self action. He argues the need "to respect, if not celebrate, the weapons of the weak. All the more reason to see in the tenacity of self-preservation... a spirit and practice that prevents the worst and promises something better" (Scott [ 1 985]: 350). It is not clear however that for those torn asunder by capitalist development the use ofthe weapons of the weak does prevent the worst. Indeed, by avoiding the hard and difficult choices that need to be made regarding collective action, the deployment of the weapons of the weak may assist in preventing the emergence of something better. 200 PEASANT STUDIES V Concluding remarks James C. Scott's analysis of everyday forms of peasant resistance has invigorated an often neglected aspect of peasant studies. It has also contrib uted to developing a more critical approach regarding the role of personal behavior in the patterns of resistance studied by anthropological political economists. Finally, it has produced a rich if varied body of ethnographic insights. Despite these achievements however the work, like its unstated neo populism, is plagued by a weak grasp of the concept of hegemony. Scott views hegemony as the passive acceptance of a dominant ideology by sub ordinate groups. His exposition of the everyday forms which resistance can take decisively challenges such a conception; yet Scott is tilting at wind mills. Hegemony invests experience with meaning not by imposition but by a negotiation which unifies multiple social realities in a manner consis tent with class domination. Such unification does not however preclude dissent by individuals when meaning fails to explain reality. In such cir cumstances, everyday forms of peasant resistance act as an outlet which challenge inconsistencies in individual experience without challenging the structure of class domination. At the same time, the deployment of the weapons of the weak can form the basis by which multiple social realities are broadly if loosely reunified. It would thus appear that despite Scott's efforts, the need to unify individualistic acts of resistance into transforma tive movements for change remains if the further peripheralization of the weak is to be prevented. Notes My thanks to Ardeshir Sepehri of the University of Manitoba, Graham Dyer of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Susan Johnson of ActionAid, Kate Hudson and David Styan of South Bank University, and R.S.M. Fletcher ofTouche Ross. Any errors and omissions remain the respon sibility of the author. References Akram-Lodhi, A.H. [ 1 992] "Women's work and peasant class differentiation: a methodological and empirical exercise in political economy with reference to Pakistan." Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. PEASANTS AND HEGEMONY IN THE WORK OF JAMES C. SCOTT 20 1 Barrett, M. [ 1 980] Women 's Oppression Today: Problems in Marxist-Feminist Analysis. London: New Left Books. Brass, T. [199 1 ] "Moral economists, subalterns, new social movements, and the (re-)emergeoce of a (post-)modemised (middle) peasant" in Journal of Peasant Studies vol. 1 8 no.2. Byres, T.J. 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