Uneven Transformation of Traditional Agricultural Producers into Hybrid Peasant-Entrepreneurs through Social Media
The role and importance of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in agricultural production and rural development have been gradually increasing. Internet usage has rapidly been becoming an important part of the farmers’ daily lives globally and in Turkey. Even though the literature on ICT usage in rural areas and farmers has also been growing, certain influences have remained underresearched. To contribute to the literature that aims to fulfill this gap, this study aims at finding answers for three main questions. The first question examines the extent to which ICT in general and the internet in particular are used by the peasant farmers
whose main economic activity is traditionally agricultural production. The second question explores the internet usage purposes of them, and the third question investigates in-depth the farmers’ social media usage as e-commerce platforms by focusing on the market coverage, customer characteristics, and its influences on farmers’ production, capital accumulation, and labor force relations. We conducted 297 open-ended questionnaires for the first question, 198 for the second, and 23 semi-structured interviews for the third with participants from randomly selected villages located in the Province of Kayseri in Turkey. Our study finds that social media provides farmers with opportunities of alternative markets. They paved themselves a new way of economic survival, which triggered an uneven emergence of hybrid peasant-entrepreneurs who are neither peasants nor entrepreneurs but rather seem to be stuck in between. They hold on to their lands and operate their family farms but tend to maintain their traditional production relations. Their
production relies on unpaid family workers, and the traditional dominance of the family over production and accumulation relations still remains. We also find that this hybrid adaptation paves the way for uneven development in rural settlements that are located within the proximate areas of regional cities.
Keywords: social media; agricultural production; hybrid peasant-entrepreneurs;
uneven rural development; Turkey