Review from ROAPE Volume 4 Number 8
Dev/Income Distrib./Social Change in Rural Egypt 1952-70
The reviewer must say that he is no expert on Egypt and that his assessment is conditioned by the needs of a teacher of a course on Third World Politics. Anyone who has tried to teach about the effects of Land Reforms will be delighted by this book. In the relatively short space of 157 pages ii a treatment of the impact of the series of Egyptian Land Reforms on the structure of landholding; the changing relations between agrarian classes; the distribution of agrarian income; changes in rural consumption patterns; agricultural terms of trade; and rural outmigration. At first sight it contains a daunting array of statistical results, figures and graphs etc. which on closer inspection reveal that the author is concerned to keep a balance between the illustration of his method and his empirical material on the one hand and the maintenance of a coherent and easily followed argument on the other. At no point do we lose the sense of the agrarian developments as part of a wider political and economic framework. When the author says at the beginning that ‘many economists believe that economics is concerned with the allocation of resources between products rather than the distribution of products between people’ , this very concisely puts a finger on the reasons why those engaged in social and political sciences find difficulty in appropriating the work of economists and utilizing it for their own purposes. Certainly no such objection could be made to this book; and no student, having read it will use the word ‘peasant’ again to describe the nebulous similarities between the inhabitants of rural areas of the Third World, without thinking much more clearly about the particularities of actual rural social structures.