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Organized responses to socio-economic change among peasants of the Peruvian Sierra.

Rainbird, Helen (1975) Organized responses to socio-economic change among peasants of the Peruvian Sierra. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In Peru in the late 1950's and early 1960's widespread agrarian unrest prompted the passing and implementation of a far reaching land reform programme. (l969-70) Peasants had been disputing titles to land in the courts, forming cooperatives, taking strike action and invading lands, often making use of complex and costly bureaucratic channels to attain their ends. These recent activities have been interpreted as being characteristic of "peasant movements" but the use of this term obscures the fact that agrarian struggles have been an on-going feature of Peruvian rural life. Explanations of this kind are closely linked to "modernization" theories of economic development which tend to stress the importance of the diffusion of cultural change from the cities rather than changes in other aspects of local level social structures. Consequently, emphasis has been given to the way in which migration to mined and cities opens up new experiences to peasants, especially as they come into contact with syndicate organizations, liberal ideologies and outsiders who act as "charismatic" leaders. An examination of five case studies suggests that this kind of approach exaggerates the relationship of dependency of peasants on landowners and middlemen, and fails to explain how markedly different social situations produced similar kinds of organized activities. I examine the possibilities of developing an approach which will combine an analysis of the structures underlying observed social action with a consideration of the social constraints on decision-making amongst individuals and groups. This does not allow for the formulation of a consistent model for the interpretation of organized peasant activities, but suggests that analysis should look to the interplay of sets of relationships at the local level with developments in the structure of the wider society which at the present time have produced an environment conducive to the success of peasant strategies.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1975
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:30

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