Commodification and Social Commons : Smallholder autonomy and 'rurban' relations in Turkey

Öztürk, M.; Jongerden, J.P.; Hilton, A.


This article focuses on two ways in which smallholders—rural families, the peasantry—are responding to the contemporary neoliberal environment in Turkey by resisting commodification. This resistance, which takes place both by definition, insofar as smallholders refuse to enter, or properly conform to, the logic of capital, and in terms of its characteristics, values and practices of autonomy and sharing, is located in the context of two sites or structures of social commons. These comprise the maintenance of non-commodity circuits, along with the development of what may be identified as a new, dual-circuit articulation, one that involves financial inputs, particularly through engagement in labour relations, in combination with the non-commodity circuits. The latter emerges through manifold, variegated, and informal linkages structured around kin and community and enabled by mobility and migration. Thus, superseding the rural–urban division of space and going beyond capitalistic relations, these comprise a contemporary form of ‘solidarity-network-based social commons’. Presented in this example from Turkey, therefore, are different ways in which smallholder farming operates as a locus of resilience for extended family and village/locality interconnectivity that offers a distance from markets, even as it utilizes them with novel forms of communally oriented autonomies in a more generalized re-spatialization that extends to the urban and goes beyond capital.