Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia is one of the most famous of the early works of Clifford Geertz. It principal thesis is that many centuries of intensifying wet-rice cultivation in Indonesia had produced greater social complexity without significant technological or political change, a process Geertz terms "involution".
Written for a US-funded project on the local developments and following the modernization theory of Walt Whitman Rostow, Geertz examines in this book the agricultural system in Indonesia and its two dominant forms of agriculture, swidden and sawah. In addition to researching its agricultural systems, the book turns to an examination of their historical development. Of particular note is Geertz's discussion of what he famously describes as the process of "agricultural involution" in Java, where both the external economic demands of the Dutch rulers and the internal pressures due to population growth led to intensification rather than change.