Adaptive Hamlet Norms in the Context of Local Social Networks and Power: The Case of Hikawa Town
In general, the proliferation of hamlet farming reflects the interests of local JA and local governments. Yet, there are vast differences across localities regarding the extent to which collective cultivation takes hold. As mentioned above, Hikawa Town in Shimane Prefecture displays a particularly strong role of hamlet-based farming. I argue that this is more than the cumulative result of separate hamlet activities. Instead, it reflects a local strategy aimed at exercising and consolidating power over the local farm sector as a whole, based on the ability of the local coop and administration to shape the adaptation and the (re)negotiation of hamlet norms and practices in their interests. Following Knight and Ensminger, the ability to create and change social norms depends on the actor’s ‘superior bargaining power’, derived from access to (state) resources, but also from a dominant position within local social networks. Before I take up this aspect in more detail, let me briefly introduce the strategic benefits of promoting collective farming for the local co-op and administration.
-  8 Jack Knight and Jean Ensminger, ‘Conflict Over Changing Social Norms’.