This article explores the relations between agricultural production, international migration, wage labour and processes of differentiation among peasant households. It does so based on the analysis of the ejido Jesús María in the northeast of the state of Guanajuato, Central Mexico. The history of this ejido and how Mexican neoliberal policies led to increased levels of migration and proletarianization since at least the early 1990s is presented. Then, it presents how in this context the production of asparagus for agro-export developed on the irrigated lands of this ejido, showing that this process went hand in hand with social differentiation and important changes in the distribution of land and water. Then, it presents the results of a household and production survey that shows that most peasant households combine agricultural production with local urban and rural wage labour, migration, remittances and/or other economic activities. Households that can live from agriculture alone have had important capital investments in agricultural production coming from international migration and remittances. Based on these results, it argues that, as rural communities become increasingly dependent on external ‘urban/global’ capital, the rural/urban divide has become increasingly permeable with important consequences for peasant economies and related social differentiation processes.
- social differentiation