Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-21-2013

Journal / Book Title

Journal of Agrarian Change


This paper examines how people mobilize around notions of distributive justice, or ‘moral economies’, to make claims to resources, using the process of post‐socialist land privatization in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam as a case study. First, I argue that the region's history of settlement, production, and political struggle helped to entrench certain normative beliefs around landownership, most notably in its population of semi‐commercial upper peasants. I then detail the ways in which these upper peasants mobilized around notions of distributive justice to successfully press demands for land restitution in the late 1980s, drawing on Vietnamese newspapers and other sources to construct case studies of local land conflicts. Finally, I argue that the successful mobilization of the upper peasants around such a moral economy has helped, over the past two decades, to facilitate the re‐emergence of agrarian capitalism in the Mekong Delta, in contrast to other regions in Vietnam.


Published Citation

Gorman, Timothy. "Moral Economy and the Upper Peasant: The Dynamics of Land Privatization in the M ekong D elta." Journal of Agrarian Change 14, no. 4 (2014): 501-521.