Geertz C. Agricultural involution: the processes of ecological change in Indonesia . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, p. Agricultural Involution: the processes of ecological change in Indonesia, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California/London: University of California. Agricultural involution: the process of ecological change in Indonesia. by Geertz, Clifford. Publication date Topics Agriculture, Agricultura, Ecologie.

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January External links: Late in his career, Geertz reflected that the book had become an “orphan,” widely read and criticized without reference to his larger body of work. This page was last edited on 3 Octoberat Retrieved from ” https: Views Read Edit View history.

Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia – Wikipedia

Agricultural Involution is one of the earlier works of a very influential writer: Critics have attacked Geertz’s ideas in a number of places, and some of his conclusions are now considered doubtful. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Of particular note is Geertz’s discussion of what he famously describes as the process of “agricultural involution”. The geographical location of these different types is important. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


But this work is still necessary reading for anyone interested in Indonesian agriculture, as well as being a good introduction to the economic history of Indonesia.

Having looked at the agricultural system the book turns to an examination of the systems agriucltural development. The two dominant forms of agriculture are swidden and sawah.

Swidden is also known as slash and burn and sawah is irrigated rice paddy. The Process of Ecological Change in Indonesia.

Clifford Geertz

Of Approximate Agrocultural and Moral Judgments ” “. Written for a particular US-funded project on the local developments [1] and following the modernisation theory of Walt Whitman RostowGeertz examines in this book the agricultural system in Indonesia.

This involved putting even more labour into paddy field cultivation, increasing per hectare output while maintaining per capita output. This is his description of the process in Java where both the external economic demands of the Dutch rulers and the internal pressures due to population growth led to intensification rather than change.

Geertz’s thesis is that this process was tied up with the development of sugar as a smallholder cash crop complementary with rice production.

Agricultural Involution (Clifford Geertz) – book review

It then looks at the historical development of Indonesian agriculture, and in particular the process of “agricultural involution”, where the Javanese economy, faced with external pressure from the economic demands of the Dutch inovlution regime and internal pressure from rapidly increasing population, intensified existing forms of agriculture rather than changing.


Sawah is the dominant form in both Java and Bali where nearly three quarters of Indonesia’s population live and swidden more common in the less central regions.

It principal thesis is that many centuries of intensifying wet-rice cultivation in Indonesia had produced greater social complexity without significant technological or political change, a process Geertz terms “involution”. What this amounted was increasing the labour intensity in the paddies, increasing output per area but not increasing output per head.

If nothing else, it will be remembered for the coining of the term “agricultural involution”.