Table of contents(16 chapters)
It has long been realized that market-based development tends to impact Third World rural communities by increasing stratification between those who are able to take advantage of increasing opportunities and those who are less fortunate (for instance, Kottak, 1999). An extreme example of this was the early impact of the Green Revolution during the 1960s and 1970s. It more than tripled the productivity of rice in parts of Asia, but on the village level it often had a less benign effect on the wealth gap and the retention of assets by the very poor.1 Less extreme cases are represented in this volume by Eric Jones and Ueli Hostettler. Both describe instances in which increasing contact with the outside was the main element impacting on rural communities rather than technological innovations in agriculture. They differ, however, in that Jones approaches the subject synchronically by using central place theory and network analysis, while Hostettler’s contribution is decidedly historical in character.
Does a village’s location in a regional economic system predict the extent to which close interpersonal relationships are based on socioeconomic similarity? A comparison of sample social networks of four frontier villages in northwest Ecuador showed that village centrality influences the dominant types of social relationships and, thus, the differential tendencies for socioeconomic differentiation. Compared to residents in peripheral villages, those in central ones were more likely to name individuals of their own class and to note mutual relations in their social networks.
In this paper I explore how members of rural Maya households in central Quintana Roo (Mexico) interact with the wider social system and cope with long-term transformations in productive relations since c. 1840. Maya householders integrate elements of capitalist and non-capitalist modes of production. Through particular cultural forms they regulate internal uses of wealth and their relationships with the larger capitalist world. Social and economic stratification is a fundamental feature of life among Maya householders today as it was in the past. While disparities between wealth strata within the local context have increased, the community is far from disintegrating into antagonistic groups.
This article assesses pronatalism in the non-industrialized Caribbean in light of contributions that children make to household production. The place that the economic utility of children has in determining pronatal attitudes and behavior has been increasingly neglected by social scientists. This trend is especially unwarranted in regard to the traditional Caribbean. As an example, it is shown that the primary reason farmers in Jean Rabel, Haiti, are in favor of high birth rates and reject contraceptives is because the farmers conceptualize children as necessary to their economic survival.
The Mexican government has been criticized for its implementation of neo-liberal economic policies that threaten to further impoverish indigenous populations. Given this, it is surprising that in 1997 some members of the Mixe people – one of the poorest indigenous groups in Mexico – condemned the implementation of a new government funding project that was specifically intended to alleviate hardship caused by free trade. The paper argues that objections to both free trade and the new funding program stem from the overarching problem the Mixe face, namely their systematic exclusion from decision-making processes and citizenship at the national level.
The argument for the damaging effects of capitalist modes of production on traditional or indigenous communities is convincing, and has been upheld by scholars interested in development issues. Recent research, however, has called for a closer look at the problem. In this paper, a Japanese village that was created by the government for collective rice farming under a state-controlled distribution system is examined in an attempt to discern how a sudden shift to capitalist modes of production and largely uncontrolled marketing changed the social structure of the community. It is argued that the effects of such a shift may actually promote new unions and different kinds of solidarity, even when the overall impression indicates a decline in solidarity.
This article analyses the issue of discipline violations in a Russian textile company. Discipline violations proliferated in Soviet times and were tolerated by managers. The cause has been identified in the limited form of control exercised over the production process, resulting from the social relations existing in the Soviet Union. Evidence from the case study indicates that no fundamental change has occurred in this area since the transition. The research documents the material and psychological hardships experienced by workers, the relational practices constraining line managers, and it tries to discern the conceptual and operative limits of disciplinary campaigns by top management.
This paper compares the ways in which different livestock and agricultural products are exchanged in post-socialist Mongolia. It tries to explain why some goods are more commoditised than others. The hypothesis is that when marketing or barter exchange with professional merchants entail high opportunity costs, the chosen modus will rather be gift giving or personal barter within local networks. High opportunity costs, in turn, may arise because of the importance goods have for domestic consumption, because of the transaction costs connected with their exchange, or because of a high prestige value, which is not reflected in high market prices.
This essay examines a common assertion among middle-class shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that place of manufacture, rather than brand markers, largely determines the quality of goods. For shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City, unity of place, people, raw materials, and trade secrets at the source – a corporation’s home country – is essential to the production of high quality goods. This stands in contrast to the brand logic through which corporations outsource their production presumably without compromising product quality. By privileging production sites over brands, shoppers in Ho Chi Minh City interpret the recent increase of famous foreign brand name goods in Vietnam as an increase of domestic, rather than foreign goods.
This essay uses Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism and Mauss’s description of the hau as the spirit that connects the giver to the gift to examine notions of production, value, and collectivity in the Santa Fe silver mining Cooperative in Guanajuato, Mexico. This case allows us to look at how fetishism on the one hand, and “hauism” on the other, can work together to form a hybrid form of value wherein silver participates in both commodified and giftlike processes. More broadly, it helps us to examine the relationship between the production of value and the production and legitimation of social groups.
We compare two highly symbolized beverages – Coca-Cola and tesguino, a fermented maize beer of indigenous northern Mexico – to (re-)evaluate the notion of fetishism of commodities in contrasting ethnographic contexts. In the case of Coca-Cola, we observe a kind of hidden but active fetishization, meaning a strategic procedure wherein the producer invests images of social character, experience, and other naturalizing significations into its commodity. Tesguino, as a comparably sacred drink among the Rarámuri, is not characterized by its concealment in magical properties and simulacrized associations. The ritual consumption of tesguino, instead, reveals the organic social bonds in relations of production and exchange.
Drawing on research in the worlds of advertising, magazines and fashion, this paper discusses how celebrities mediate between different fields of cultural production. By focusing on celebrity endorsements in advertising, it also outlines how film actors and actresses, athletes, models, pop singers, sportsmen and women mediate between producers and consumers via the products and services that they endorse. As economic mediators, celebrities’ actions have important strategic and financial implications for the corporations whose products they endorse. As cultural mediators, they give commodities personalities and perform across different media, linking different cultural fields into an integrated name economy.
In Burma, sacred giving (dana) is a principal obligation for all Buddhist practitioners. This paper evaluates the practical and cultural underpinnings of donation practices. Dana redistributes resources, it operates as a system for the production of status distinctions and patron-client ties, and as a means to fulfilling proximate soteriological goals and sacred relations. Elaborating on distinctions Godelier draws between “ideology” and “mentalite,” I argue that sacred giving – especially as it is articulated in native theories about intention – participate in a “politics of sincerity” that impact the political legitimacy projects of the military junta.
Since the 1950s, Ocean Spray cranberry growers have typically seen themselves in terms of their membership in the Ocean Spray cooperative rather than as cranberry growers. This association with the cooperative is so powerful that both members and independents alike believe that without Ocean Spray, the cranberry industry would not exist as it does today. Yet, as a way to recoup the losses resulting from the recent cranberry glut, some member-growers have proposed selling the cooperative. Although the sale would have generated a large sum of money for them, growers voted overwhelmingly against it. In order to understand why growers identify so closely with the cooperative, this paper intends to demonstrate how Ocean Spray’s influence transcended its role as a marketing cooperative to that of a significant social institution.