International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 25, Issue 1 (2019)

Three strategies of capital accumulation in China's agro-food sector:

A technological-political-financial accumulation synergy                                                                                                 79-96

Authors: Jin Zhang

Affiliations: Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University;

Abstract            PDF


Capital accumulation in the agro-food sector displays new characteristics in modern society. By means of a case study of China’s sugarcane sector, this paper identifies three capital accumulation strategies that recently emerged. The first strategy is the redistribution of costs and benefits between farmers and companies through the introduction of new technologies which is known as agro-technification. The second strategy is termed food politicization and relates to the profound restructuring of both sugarcane production and the sugar market through massive state intervention. The third strategy is land swindle, namely the conversion of land from a means of production into an object of speculation. Following a discussion of the three strategies by drawing on developments in China’s sugarcane sector, this paper argues that these new capital accumulation activities will render national and transnational food systems more fragile and unsustainable. Moreover, it argues that classical agrarian analyses defining accumulation as a land-labour-capital triangular relation cannot explain the current capital accumulation in agro-food sector. Instead, a new triangular technological-political-financial synergy more aptly describes recent developments in the agro-food industry in general.

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