Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas: Volume 29


Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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Bosco, Liu, and West's chapter on underground lotteries in rural China is one that begs permission to cross the boundaries between parts of this volume, for it deals with the integration of the Chinese economy with others, and it also poses certain moral questions about the nature of markets and rationality in economic exchanges (see also Suarez, this volume). But the authors, after reviewing the evidence, ultimately conclude that China's underground lotteries must be viewed in relation to that country's phenomenal economic development in recent decades. They show that the rise of illegal underground lotteries in China is tightly connected to the development of the modern capitalist economy there, and that although it seems at first glance to be powered by irrationality and superstition, it actually functions according to capitalist principles – at least as viewed by the participants. They also argue that rural villagers who place bets in them are not mere victims of nonsensical beliefs or of opportunistic “outsiders,” but rather that they are participating in their own way in a system in which luck clearly plays a very large role, but one over which they have little control, and one that is grounded in the historical commercialized economy of China (see also Richardson, 1999). It is interesting to note the way that participants rationalize the lottery and their actions through their assumption that it is rigged – their approach to it is markedly different from that of someone from, for example, Japan or the United States, where such a lottery is assumed from the start to not be rigged. Bosco and co-authors well demonstrate here the importance of viewing a cultural phenomenon as part of a greater whole, and one in a constant state of flux.

A little-known “lottery fever” has spread to many parts of rural China over the past 10 years. This is driven by participation in underground lotteries with local bookies. It is called liuhecai, which is the name of the Hong Kong lottery, and is based on guessing the bonus number of the Hong Kong Mark Six lottery. Such lotteries are illegal, but are an open secret. This chapter seeks to understand the meaning of this apparently irrational lottery fever: why people participate in it, why they believe the conspiracy theory that it is rigged (and yet still participate), and why similar lotteries have emerged in both capitalist Taiwan and post-socialist China at this particular time.

This chapter evaluates the proliferation of supermarkets in developing countries using data collected between May 2005 and June 2006 in Citlalicalli, Mexico. Contrary to the experience of most developed countries, this study revealed that supermarkets and small retailers can coexist by catering to different income groups and product categories. Consumer choices are driven by the desire to reduce transaction costs in terms of time and money. In striking a balance between the two, consumers look for retail outlets that offer them the best value for their money with the least amount of time spent in shopping trips. Location of the store plays a critical role in buying choices that consumers make. In developing countries, generally, only high-income consumers can afford to own cars and choose to buy most products in supermarkets. Consumers without cars buy frequently purchased goods (foods) in small stores and infrequently purchased goods (consumer durables) in supermarkets.

Rishton, a small town in Uzbekistan, has been producing pottery for centuries. This chapter investigates how the pottery and ceramists’ society in Rishton changed during the 20th century, the 70 year-long Soviet era in particular. It seeks to answer the question of how the traditions of Muslim artisans in a feudal society were rearranged and relocated in the Soviet production system. Importantly, the apprentice system especially helped to preserve many older methods and customs, such as the veneration of Islamic patron saints, among ceramists. This chapter also sheds light on the ways in which these traditions have changed in the shifting economy since Uzbekistan became independent in 1991.

In this chapter I describe and analyze the decisions and strategies made by marketplace vendors in Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia, by presenting four detailed case studies. I demonstrate that rather than trying to simply gain a profit in order to accumulate capital, a variety of goals and objectives underlie the way in which vendors operate their businesses. These numerous goals and objectives can be recognized when vendors’ businesses are comprehended as one aspect of household maintenance activities. I conclude that when viewed from this perspective, vendors’ decisions and strategies can be understood to be shaped by moral and social obligations as well as by the rationality of the market.

Rural Oaxaca is plagued with economic problems. There are few jobs available and ideas concerning gender often limit the work that women are able to pursue. In this chapter, we explore how rural Oaxacan women create economic opportunities. We focus on work at home that is both voluntary and remunerative, craft production, and entrepreneurial activities. We show that rural Oaxacan women are able to create unique economic niches that build upon their domestic roles and enhance the economic status of their households.

It has been observed that, in contrast to other Asian and Southeast Asian polities, there are no records of monetary transactions in Angkor's 6th–14th century inscriptions, and no reference to a unit of account after the late 8th century. Explanations for this have been offered, but none of them have much support. In fact, a considerable range of monetary concepts are expressed throughout the study period, and it is unlikely that there was no unit of account. Differences between records of temple inventories and exchange transactions suggest that perhaps display was more important in temples, and that quantitative values such as weights were important in the exchanges. An explanation for the lack of monetary transactions may lie in the fact that the epigraphy is written by and for an elite seemingly concerned more with merit, hierarchy and display of wealth than bureaucratic detail.

Developing new markets for small producers has been a major focus of research and development in many parts of the world. Too frequently, the ways in which existing production and market systems constrain producer possibilities has been ignored. This study examines how existing systems have affected coffee farmers in Costa Rica and Panama as they attempt to enter the elite coffee market, which promises higher prices for premium production. In the past 50 years, Costa Rica had created a system quite favorable to small producers in the world coffee market, while Panama had done little. Yet today, the Costa Rican system has proven to be a barrier to entering the highest levels of the coffee market, while the Panamanian system has produced coffees that are currently among the best in the world. The shifting ways in which production and marketing systems connect with world markets and elite taste suggest the necessity of greater sensitivity to how existing systems affect what farmers can and will decide to do.

Historically, sex, tourism, and the labor market have long been inextricably linked, but media concerns about sex as the main purpose of tourism, and its effects on the host group and its sex workers, date from the mid-1990s, in the wake of the spread of HIV, the collapse of communism, the rise of the Internet, and the increasing influence of NGOs concerned with women's and children's welfare. This chapter argues that in order to understand fully the relationship between tourism, sex, and the labor market, we need to adopt a broader perspective and look at the various intersections between the three factors, and how they blend into and influence each other. It conceptualizes the three domains of tourism, sex, and work as intersecting circles and analyzes the forms of activity typical of each. “Sex tourism,” as popularly defined, is the space where all three overlap, but there are significant areas of sexual activity associated with tourism that are not commercial, and yet that generate significant and increasing business activity in some destinations. There is also a tendency for partners in commercial sex to define their relationships in terms of other sectors, as “love” or “romance.” The chapter concludes that with economic development, there is a tendency for roles in the sex industry to become increasingly professionalized and differentiated, and that as the industry is unlikely to disappear, regulation should focus on the empowerment and welfare of sex workers rather than abolition and suppression.

This chapter considers the importation of brand images, a key concept in marketing studies, within anthropological approaches to culture and consumption. It does so through examining modes of cultural valuation toward “Made in China” products on the part of consumers. Following theoretical lines recently established by anthropologists in the study of culture, commodification, and consumption in global settings, and their emphasis upon culture as a label for goods, it also brings into the discussion issues in geopolitics and ethnicity, especially from the viewpoint of ethnographic evidence collected in France and Nepal. “Made in China” products are enmeshed in complex, intermingling, and conflicting imaginations of the Other, brand images, and are associated with the underlying social logic of consumption or avoidance of consumption, often paradoxical, but intelligible in both broad-ranging and local contexts.

Although the theory of cumulative causation posits a “saturation point” at which all members of a rural community who are potential transnational migrants will have migrated, in the case of dynamic out-migration centers, this saturation point may never be reached. This is because growth centers – the growth often having been propelled by wages and remittances of prior migrants – attract in-migrants from poorer, less dynamic, surrounding ranchos that eventually become incorporated in transnational migration networks of the more dynamic rancho. It is also due to intermarriage as well as friendship and ritual kinship ties between members of the core rancho and surrounding ranchos.

Current theoretical frameworks within economics have so far been unable to adequately explain why people tip. This chapter synthesizes anthropological method and theory into a symbolic interactionist approach, attempting to access, through ethnography, the negotiated meanings underlying and actuating tip payment in Vancouver restaurants. Customers tip for a variety of reasons, including (1) for good service, (2) to follow a social norm, (3) out of sympathetic feelings, (4) to demonstrate or enhance social standing, and (5) to secure a specific preference. The disconnect between common rationalizations for tipping, which are often reflections of formalist economic canon, and how customers actually tip, that is, according to social, cultural, and moral factors, suggests that the popular distinction between “economic” and “non-economic” exchanges is ideologically maintained. Tipping illustrates the existence and contours of what Hart (2005) refers to as the two circuits of social life – but also that these two circuits are ideological constructs.

Japanese preschools have been the subject of extensive ethnographic investigation over the last 40 years or more. However, the market for preschools in Japan has received almost no such attention. This market is rapidly changing, for the recent sharp decrease in the number of children in the country has resulted in a growing struggle on the part of kindergartens to attract children, largely by catering to the needs of mothers, for their survival. This chapter, by considering children as a common-pool resource (CPR) for which kindergartens quietly vie with one another, examines the situation in the capital city of Akita Prefecture, and shows how mothers – and also households – have been able to benefit in terms of convenience due to competition among kindergartens for their children.

This chapter examines the selling practices of street vendors at a popular weekend market in Washington, DC. I discuss the role of social and moral norms in vendors' behavior toward one another, customers, and their work. Vendor success in this marketplace over the long term is influenced not only by their products and sales skills, but also by their understanding and acceptance of an ethical framework partly shaped by stories they tell about each other. As such, this study illustrates the embedded nature of sellers in marketplaces, as opposed to theoretical notions of how abstract individuals are supposed to act in a decontextualized “market.” Furthermore, stories that arise from encounters between vendors and customers add value to the products people buy. Objects in this marketplace, then, gain value not only through the interaction of supply and demand, but also through buyer and seller interaction, which provides a narrative base for future communication.

The literature on Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs), commonly known as tandas in Mexico, indicates a higher participation of women but generally fails to detect the reasons thereof. This chapter partially bridges the gap by considering the role of social capital in these organizations. The findings of this study show that socioeconomic factors, the gender of the member majority, and acceptance levels in the group influence the higher participation of women. However, access to formal credit markets does not influence this behavior. Moreover, trust in women-based groups and the benefits obtained from membership further contribute to higher participation of women. The participation of men in ROSCAs seems to be related to motivational factors that are different from those for women. For women, social capital is especially relevant for gender-based group formation.

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Research in Economic Anthropology
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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