Household economy and livelihood strategies in a pastoral community in the central Peruvian highlands : a regional perspective
The subject of this thesis is the study of a pastoral community in its regional context. The research was undertaken in 1979-1980 in the peasant community of Tomas in the central highlands of Peru. It focussed on four main areas: the domestic economy, levels of cash income and expenditure, the historical context and the networks involved in the wool economy. The body of theory which has been used in the present work concerns peasant economy and its relationship with capitalist development. The concepts of economic activity fields and linkage analysis have been employed to form a framework for the analysis of the economic role of the household and its relationship with the peasant community and the regional economy. The research was undertaken by means of general participant observation and open-ended interviews with members of the community. In addition, a detailed study of the economies of 20 households was made through the medium of questionnaires on domestic production and consumption. Wider economic networks were followed up in order to investigate the relationships which all households have with the regional economy. Finally, historical depth was given to the research through the collection of personal life histories and case studies, as well as by the investigation of local, regional and national archives. The main conclusions of the thesis concern the recent orientation of domestic economy in Tomas. The commoditisation of pastoral products over many years has meant that almost all households have had long-term involvement in the cash economy. Lately, too, the diversification of the domestic economy in the face of communal and ecological constraints on pastoralism has led, for a growing number of households, to a decreasing reliance on communally controlled resources and a greater involvement in the wider regional economy. These tendencies indicate that, despite their physical isolation, the pastoralists of Tomas are fully integrated into the national economy of Peru.