THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Barbara Harriss-White. The Political Economy of Agricultural Markets in South India: Masters of the Countryside. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1996. 425 pages. Hardbound. Indian Rs 395.00.
The primary concern in this book is to enquire into the political economy of the marketing of dryland agricultural products, and the volume presents an analysis and discussion of the fieldwork carried out in Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu, India, assessing the relevance of theory in the real world. The approach followed is a combination of institutional economics and political economy. The difference between the “new political economy” and the “old political economy” is explained, and the latter has been selected as relevant for the current project. “Old political economy”, basically concerned with power, challenges conventional research on the economics of agricultural markets. It is defined as an interdisciplinary agenda, exerting power for determining economic structure and behaviour. The author states that marketing in agricultural products is not a simple transaction between the producer and the consumer. Rather, it is explained better by the diversity and complexity of the marketing structure, institutions, and behaviour of the marketing system , looked at in a political-economy framework.