Peasant economy, women's labour and differential forms of capitalist development : a comparative study in three contrasting situations in Peru and Chile
The subject of this thesis is the study of rural women and their participation in agricultural production. It intends to analyse the impact of differential capitalist development on the patterns of involvement of women in production in three regional situations in Chile and Peru, trying to show the relevance of women's work and its contribution to the regional and national economy. The three regions selected (the fruit growing and mixed cropping areas of Chile, and the mining central region of Peru) permit us to grasp the heterogeneity of capitalist development in Latin American countries, showing striking variations in the economic role of rural women. In one area I found heavy participation of women in wage labour, whilst in the other areas there was a substantial commitment to agricultural production, or, as in the case of Peru these predominated a combination of commerce and agriculture. The aim of the study of rural women in these three regions was to place women's work in the historical development of the regions, and in relation to the household unit, attempting to detect the contribution of women to the household common income fund. This approach allowed me to observe the connections existing between different forms of organization of production, the strategies adopted by the members of the household for survival in situations of insufficient production and income, and to discover the different forms of participation of women in production in the three regions under study. The study was carried out in various stages, first in Peru in 3979, and later in Chile during 1962 and 1984. The general methodology consisted of combining both general data for establishing the regional framework and a survey for collecting quantitative data on women's involvement in the economy, together with case studies on the position of women within the households. The hypotheses that guided the study were that women participate fully in the economy and contribute significantly to the provision of income and the economic maintenance of households, and secondly, that this contribution is important for the economy as a whole, both in terms of production and reproduction functions; also, that the specific forms of women's involvement in production activities depend upon the specific characteristics of the regional process. The conclusion of the study suggests that women's work, for a great part, make up the production of the internal demand of foodstuffs for these countries, as well as, in some cases, of export crops. Also, although women’s work may not be recognized as part of the formal economy, it can help maintain peasant forms of production, perhaps even limiting the emergence of forms of peasant differentiation The thesis is divided into two main parts: the first providing a general framework for methodological problems concerned with the analysis of women's work in rural contexts and a comparative approach to understanding agrarian development and situations in Chile and Peru. The second part consists of three main chapters dedicated to the analysis of women in the regions selected for the study, each of which includes a detailed regional analysis, together with specific field data and testimonies on women's activities and perceptions.