Taking stock of the external factors influencing the development (embourgeoisement) of the peasantry on the Hungarian Great Plain, the author identifies stages between 1850 and 2010. She places special emphasis on presenting the influences affecting the life of peasant families. Political events and decisions have always greatly influenced changes in peasant culture and the stability of peasant society. These have been accompanied by changing attitudes. In the period of state socialism (second half of the 20th century) growing numbers abandoned the peasant way of life and traditional culture. Since the latest change of system (turn of the 20th to 21st centuries) there have been big shifts in rural society but a clearly identifiable social picture has not yet emerged. Attachment to family tradition and the desire to acquire new agricultural knowledge are determining features in the attitude of those choosing the peasant way of life. They are the most successful. Those who have not adopted this attitude have two options: migration away from the place where they were born and live (to take up employment in a city or abroad) or marginalisation. Predominance of the latter group could result in rural settlements on the Great Plain losing their character and even their inhabitants. It is therefore of vital importance for the development of rural areas for growing numbers to join the first group and shape the culture and way of life of their environment.