Change and Uncertainty in a Peasant Economy: The Maya Corn Farmers of Zinacantan

Change and Uncertainty in a Peasant Economy: The Maya Corn Farmers of Zinacantan

Change and Uncertainty in a Peasant Economy: The Maya Corn Farmers of Zinacantan

Change and Uncertainty in a Peasant Economy: The Maya Corn Farmers of Zinacantan

Excerpt

This is a study of economic change in Zinacantan, a township of some 9,000 Maya Indians in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Zinacantecos are corn (maize) farmers who work with hoes and the techniques of slash and burn agriculture to produce the major part of their families' food, as well as substantial amounts that they market for cash. Most of this corn farming is done on rented fields in the nearby lowlands. The empirical focus of this book is Zinacanteco farming and the changes in it resulting from government development programs between 1957 and 1966. The theoretical focus is on uncertainty--on how lack of knowledge creates situations in which even economic maximizers, rational economic men, have their economic decisions substantially influenced by noneconomic factors. In this Introduction I will briefly outline both aspects of the study.

Any study of peasant agriculture done today is faced with the perennial "economic man" issue, as it was stated in the literature on agricultural development published during the 1950's and 1960's. The classic formulation of the issue would ask whether Zinacantecos are economic maximizers or are kept from maximizing by their adherence to tradition. That is, the economic rationality of Zinacanteco responses to changing economic opportunities would be in question. In this study I have avoided this issue as much as possible, because: (1) I believe that it is a bogus question and leads to scientifically incorrect and politically dangerous . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.