Rural society in Europe today displays many contradictory features. Many of its characteristics are obviously derived from the past. Some are vestigial, but others are fundamental and hence capable of little modification. The labour commitment of the peasant family chef d’entreprise falls into this latter category. Other features are highly contemporary — the feminisation of the labour force, for instance. Much that is new is urban or industrial in origin; but that does not make rural life a pale imitation of what goes on in the city. Agriculture is still not a species of factory existence. In no part of Europe, it would be safe to generalise, does rural life any longer closely resemble the conditions to be found in the rural areas of pre-war Europe. But in some regions change has not progressed sufficiently to prevent one from perceiving what those conditions were like. In other regions the break with the past appears to be almost complete.