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From Peasants to Farmers? Agrarian Reforms and Modernisation in Twentieth Century Romania

A Case Study: Bordei Verde Commune in Braila County


Cornel Micu

The underdevelopment of agriculture was an important subject during the negotiations for Romania’s accession to the European Union. The problem of backwardness in rural areas is, however, far from new and during the twentieth century several agrarian reforms attempted to resolve it. In order to determine the causes of their failure, this volume focuses on a region in the South-Eastern part of Romania, and investigates the activity of three sets of social actors directly involved in agricultural policy: the national elites, who formulated the modernisation programmes, the administration, who implemented them, and the peasants, who had to deal with their effects. The book covers a period of ninety years, from 1917 until 2007, and attempts to determine the long-term results of modernisation policies.


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Chapter III: From Plans to Actions – the Role of the Administrative Structures in Policy Implementation


Throughout this chapter I will approach the development of the administration in the studied area during the twentieth century. I contend that the administrative structures played an important role in the modernisation of the rural area, as they acted at an intermediary level between the national elites and the village com- munities. Therefore, the implementation of modernisation programs conceived at the national level was highly dependent on the existence of a functional ad- ministration in the villages. When investigating the role of administration in the policy toward the rural area, I suggest that three topics are especially relevant: the long term develop- ment of the administrative structures, the role they played in the implementation of reforms in the studied area and their relations with the traditional elites. Therefore I will start by describing the development of the administration plac- ing a particular emphasis on the local structures. In doing this, I will mostly use statistical data in an attempt to determine how and when the state, through its administrative structures, gained a relevant position in the villages. Thereafter, by investigating the way in which the reforms were carried out in the studied area, I will touch upon the problem of implementing the centrally developed po- litical programs. Finally, as a way of connecting this chapter with the next one that deals with the transformation of the local structures under the impact of re- forms, I will try to determine the relation between the administration and the traditional local elites. The...

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