Landholding fragmentation: Are folk soil taxonomy and equity important? A case study from Mexico

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4 Scopus citations


Landholding fragmentation is a common feature of the agricultural systems of small farmers in the tropics. This paper presents a case study from an ejido in central Chiapas, Mexico, where this pattern is common. Farmers recognize soil types of different quality, embodied in a folk soil taxonomy. They argue that fragmentation is the result of their desire to maintain an equitable distribution of all land types among them, independently of the amount of land each controls. The evidence shows that while not all farmers have all soil types, farmers belonging to all ranges of socioeconomic strata control soils in all the soil classes. There is no marked concentration of any soil type by any specific group, types are distributed among farmers by their abundance. Farmers have rejected previous government proposals to consolidate their landholdings. Fragmentation is associated with a high degree of social control over the land and a participatory process present in this community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-393
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Ejido
  • Equity
  • Landholding fragmentation
  • Mexico
  • Soil folk taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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