Bernal maintains that capitalism is not inexorably converting third world peasants into landless proletarians, but rather, creating a class of peasant-workers whose existence and reproduction is predicated on the combination of wage-labor and subsistence production. Bernal demonstrates the growing importance of wage-work in the lives of Sudanese peasants, and explores the impact of nonfarm work on the organization and goals of household agricultural production. Detailed, empirical, micro-level data back up her arguments as she explores labor markets, rural-to-urban migration, wage levels, patterns of work, capital accumulation, and their impact on Sudanese agriculture and the lives of peasant workers.
The richly detailed case study of a Blue Nile village in Sudan illustrates the complex relationships between labor markets, urban and international migration, patterns of work and accumulation in the wage economy and the informal sector, and peasant agriculture. It suggests that the growing participation of rural populations in labor and commodities markets reduces the importance of land in rural political economy and alters the basis of rural inequality and agricultural productivity.