The subject of analysis of this anthropological project is rural development and peasantry in post-socialist Serbia. Taking into consideration major pitfalls and successes of Serbian agricultural transformation since 2000 until present day, the author argues that institutional factors are not sufficient for rural development, nor for the peasantry. Rather there are non-institutional factors that play the crucial role and may either facilitate or inhibit the process of change. To that end, the author in a novel way understands and explains post-socialist rural development and peasantry, by introducing the concept of laissez-faire mentality. This is understood as cluster concept that intertwines peasants’ autonomy, ethics, the perception of self-sufficiency, habits, and other symbolical values, that provide room to manoeuvre in the context of institutional constraints imposed by agricultural policies, but also in everyday family, local and professional context. The proposed research by emphasising the emic perspective, i.e. that of a local setting and peasants, investigates how such mentality operates and how it may affect current macro-processes in Serbian agriculture. The focus of this research is the village of Gaj in Vojvodina province.