This is a study of continuity and change in rural France based on fieldwork carried out over a period of 25 years, and on historical documents spanning more than 300 years. Producer co-operatives have existed in Franche-Comte since the thirteenth century. Communities there, unlike modernEnglish villages, are highly corporate. Robert Layton explores the relationships between inheritance rules, management of common land, household labour, and inter- household relations, as well as the impact on villages of national politics and economy. Comparison with other regions of Western Europeallows a reinterpretation of the eighteenth-century enclosures in England. Layton presents a dialogue between ethnography and social theory, and argues for a revision of the theories of Marx, Giddens, and Bourdieu so as to better explain the mechanisms of continuity, change, and adaptation in sociallife.