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Volume 51 / Social Sciences


BARBARA DEUTSCH LYNCH, Extension Associate, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University
AMALIA M. ALBERTI, Independent Consultant, United States Agency for International Development, Guatemala

"INVOLUTION," THE ELABORATION OF FORM within a fixed set of parameters, is an apt metaphor for both the state of Peruvian sociology and the complexity of household economic struggles within a confined and shrinking field of opportunities and resources.The proliferation of categories within existing definitions pervades recent writings. Elaboration of class and land-tenure types reveals the inadequacy of existing paradigms and the absence of a new, more relevant way to conceptualize differentiation and inequality. Once uniform categories small landowners, tenants, urban migrants have become almost infinitely differentiated populations with confused class identities.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, students of rural classes discovered occupational diversification among campesinos and myriad land-labor relationships within narrowly defined landholding groups. The dualistic divisions of Peruvian society predominating in the 1970s - subsistence-market, modern-traditional, urban-rural - no longer reflect contemporary Peruvian economy and society.

Parodi, examining class consciousness in Peruvian metal workers, finds that industrial workers have blurred class orientations, owing to their multiple insertion into the national economy and the precariousness of stable industrial employment (item bi 88000343). Chávez O'Brien's analysis of provincial labor markets highlights their complexity, relating State policies and agricultural labor demand to urban employment (item bi 88000949). Golte and Adams find diverse strategies for insertion into Lima labor markets employed by migrants from different provincial settings (item bi 88000350). Galin and Chávez underscore the importance of the public sector as a source of employment for the popular classes as well as professionals and technicians (item bi 88000329).

A second recurrent theme is the tension between State centralization and democratization of social institutions, tension marked in the early 1980s by Acción Popular (AP) and APRA control of the center and Izquierda Unida control of important municipalities, such as Lima, Cusco, and Huancayo. Ballon, Tovar, and Chirinos (items bi 88000330, and bi 91003697) contrast the centralizing tendencies of the State, both under Belaúnde and Velasco and the role of municipal governments particularly Izquierda Unida governments in the promotion and channeling of popular participation. Ballon calls the municipality the place where political system and social movements meet and cross one another with greater frequency than ever before in Peru's history. A third topic in the literature canvassed for this volume concerns the escalation of violence in the family, in the emergency zone, and in the nation. Violence is linked to deeply engrained patterns of centralism, authoritarianism, racism, and inter- and intraregional inequities (items bi 91003752, bi 88000339, bi 88000334, and bi 88000348). Still relatively rare are the institutional analyses that would render conflict more comprehensible. The studies that are necessary are those most difficult to conduct, i.e., detailed analyses of the structure of and relationships within Sendero Luminoso, the armed forces, the judiciary, and government ministries.

The largest proportion of social science research in Ecuador continues to focus on the country's highland and rural sectors. Sánchez-Parga and Ibarra (items bi 91002119 and bi 88001025) provide interesting information and insights on the issue of ethnic conflict, and Naranjo (item bi 91003677) traces sociocultural change in the department of Cotopaxi. The majority of these works are descriptive, however, with analytical studies such as those by Dubly and Murmis (items bi 91003678 and bi 91003665) clearly limited in quantity though not in quality.

The focus on social problems in urban areas has increased, as have studies related to drugs, drug use, and criminology. Here again the content is largely descriptive, though the work of García is a notable exception (item bi 91003679).

Themes that are notably absent from more recent Ecuadorian social research include capitalist development and the promotion of exports, women's involvement in urban and rural areas, the extent and effects of evangelization in the countryside, and the impact of recent socioeconomic changes on different segments of the population.

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