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Land and differentiation in rural Fiji

CollectionsANU Pacific Institute
Title: Land and differentiation in rural Fiji
Author(s): Overton, John
Hughes, Helen
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Development Studies Centre, Research School of Pacfic Studies, The Australian National University.
Series/Report no.: The Australian National University, Pacific Research Monograph: No. 19
Fiji, despite the peculiarities of its indigenous social structure and its land tenure systems, can be seen to be exhibiting patterns and processes of socio-economic differentiation that, in some respects, are not unlike those experienced in rural communities in other parts of the developing world. Previous explanations of such differentiation pointed to various dichotomous relations: between traditional and modern, individual and communal, rural and urban, Fijian and Indian, or capitalist and proletarian. This study, involving the analysis of survey data on a number of Fijian communities, questions all these suggested divisions. The theoretical perspectives adopted to date - modernization or Marxism - do give some insights into Fijian society but cannot explain the complexity of social and economic divisions. Instead, it is suggested that there is no basic pattern of significant socio-economic differentiation within the Fijian communities studied, though there are major tensions, conflicts and differences in outlook. Any class divisions that may exist are predicated externally upon the relations between rural people and the urban-based entrepreneurs. Critical in all these relations, and for simmering tensions within rural society, is land tenure. The case study evidence points not only to severe pressure on land, and inequalities in land endowment, but also to 'extra legal' practices being used by landowners and tenants together to circumvent a cumbersome, inequitable and inflexible official land tenure system. Land is the key because its availability or otherwise largely determines the ability of people to engage in commercial agriculture, their involvement in off-farm labour, and many of their day-to-day relationships with their neighbours. Differentiation in rural Fiji cannot be understood without reference to the realities of land and land tenure.
ISBN: 0731507525
ISSN: 0155-9060


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