The analytical foundations of the book are Marxist, in that detailed historical and empirical sources are central to the account of processes of class formation, which in turn are the key to understanding the dynamics of economic and social change. It is shown that class formation can be understood only by focusing upon gender relations, which are shown to be crucial elements in the formation of a rural proletariat, and to be significant in distinguishing between capitalist and non-capitalist accumulation strategies among large farmers.