Understanding contracts in evolving agro-economies: Fermers, dekhqans and networks in Khorezm, Uzbekistan

U. Djanibekov, K.A.M. van Assche, D. Boezeman, N. Djanibekov

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21 Citations (Scopus)


We combine institutional economic perspectives and actor-network theory to elucidate the role of contracts in the evolution of transitional agricultural systems. Such combination of theories can shed a light on the mutual constitution of actors and institutions, and the formation of economic strategies. We argue that forms and functions of contracts can only be understood in an evolutionary context. In a case study of the Khorezm region, Uzbekistan, where several waves of reform created two principal actors - commercial farms (called fermers locally) responsible for state-ordered production and semi-subsistence smallholders (called dekhqans locally) - it is demonstrated how in the self-transformation of the actor-network, and thus the shifts in forms and roles of contracts, several network features play a role: interdependencies between the actors, the essential actant of the irrigation and drainage system, formal/informal dialectics. Time horizons, risk/benefit calculations, trust and cooperation forms emerge in the self-reproducing network and leave space for certain contractual forms and functions. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • danube delta
  • moral hazard
  • choice
  • agriculture
  • governance
  • lessons
  • reform
  • risk


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