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Dualism in German Agrarian Historiography

  • J. A. Perkins (a1)

The historiography of agrarian Germany before 1914 is fundamentally based upon two moments (in the Weberian sense): one of a structural and the other of an institutional nature. The structural moment comprises an emphasis upon the existence and role of agrarian dualism, that is, upon a sharp contrast, emerging from the later Middle Ages onwards, in the agrarian systems found east and west of the River Elbe and its tributary the Saale, which together formed a line bisecting Germany from Hamburg to the modern Czechoslavakian frontier. The institutional moment consists of the shift from a free-trade to a protectionist policy in respect of cereals after 1879. In the words of a leading West German agrarian historian, “On 1 January 1880 … a new epoch commenced for German agricultural policy.” In addition, the adoption of a grain tariff from 1879 is generally assumed to have had a determining influence upon the subsequent development of German agriculture and, for that matter, is thought by some writers to have exerted a considerable influence upon the entire course of modern German history.

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J. C. Hunt , “Peasants, Grain Tariffs, and Meat Quotas: Imperial German Protectionism Revisited,Central European History, 7:4 (1974), 311–31. Hunt argues that peasant farming also received protection from meat quotas and prohibitions of livestock imports under animal health legislation.

K. Tribe , “Prussian Agriculture-German Politics: Max Weber 1892–97,Economy and Society, 12:2 (1983), 181–181.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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