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Volume 59 / Social Sciences


KEITH JAMTGAARD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Rural Sociology & Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, University of Missouri System

THE TASK OF UNDERSTANDING contemporary Peruvian sociology is greatly assisted by the publication of an excellent critical inquiry on the status of the discipline (item #bi 98011635#). A noticeable trend in the materials reviewed this biennium is a greater appreciation for subjective social action, and for approaches that grasp the importance of understanding Peruvian culture and its role in both creating and resolving the country's challenges.

The emergency created by the fiscal crisis known as "Fujishock," and the subsequent withdrawal of the state from many of its traditional areas of activity provides the setting for many of the studies reviewed in HLAS 59. The departure of the Peruvian government from its role as service provider during the 1990s led to the creation and expansion of local organizations and local leadership (soup kitchens, NGOs, etc). A number of studies document the creation of effective organizations and the growth of leadership skills (items #bi 98011620#, #bi 98011621#, and #bi 99008583#).

Another persistent theme is the search for Peruvian identity. The cultural vision held by one social class in particular, the criollo middle class is explored (item #bi 99008585#). The approach to defining middle class was strongly cultural, and the various boundaries of shared values richly explored. Rather than assuming a widely shared conception of the future, social analysts in Cuzco documented the varying visions and studied how these were associated with social class (item #bi 98011615#).

Important contributions have been made to understanding women and their roles in Peruvian society. Among the publications are works documenting research on women in leadership positions within associations and institutions in Lima's poorest neighborhoods during the economic crises (items #bi 98011613# and #bi 99008583#). A number of studies focus on addiction (tobacco, PBC), some of which narrow the scope of study to the impact of addiction on women (items #bi 98011634#, #bi 98011626#, and #bi 98011599#).

In rural sociology, as well, there are examples of holistic studies of rural communities in the tradition of classic community studies from the past (e.g., item #bi 99008577#). Here, as in other areas of the discipline, the sociology of agriculture gave greater attention to human subjectivity (item #bi 98011619 #). Understanding the varying results achieved by farmer organizations in different regions depends on first appreciating the social histories of the individual farmers and different conditions in each region (item #bi 98011641#).

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