The social relations of catfish production in Vietnam

The growth of intensive export-oriented Pangasius catfish production in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is unparalleled in terms of rapidity and scale by any other agricultural sector, with production climbing from a low base to more than 1 million tons in a single decade. This paper examines the effects of this remarkable change on the rural class structure in locations where catfish farming has boomed, and analyses the role of local state-society relations in mediating outcomes resulting from the integration of local actors into the global value chain. We conclude that private economic activity is deeply embedded in informal relations with the state bureaucracy in Vietnam, with the result that the expansion of catfish aquaculture has generally acted to reproduce and entrench existing class relations rather leading to a radical reconfiguration of the rural class structure.


Belton, B., Little, D.C., Le, X.S. (2011)
Geoforum 42(5): 567-577