Harvesting State Support: Institutional Change and Local Agency in Japanese Agriculture

Document Type

Book Review


agricultural history; Japan; state support

Identifier Data



Agricultural History

Rights Management

Copyright by Duke University Press


This book is part of an expanding literature on agriculture in Japan from the perspective of political science. This work is firmly rooted in comparative arguments, utilizing richly detailed qualitative interviews, archival sources, and comprehensive fieldwork. The author's main argument is that Japan's agricultural policy framework should be viewed as a “macro-institution” shaped foremost by its positionality at the interface between formal rules and larger social network ties (9). This argument speaks to the agent/structure debate that emerged in political science in the 1980s and 1990s between those focused on large institutions such as governments and those who acknowledged the agency of individual actors, social groups, movements, and social forces.

The book uses neoinstitutionalist theory, an iteration of structural theories that emphasize stability and gradual change. Jentzsch argues that neoinstitutionalism has a weak spot noted by comparative political economists—namely, understanding institutional change especially when those changes are internal and gradual....