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Volume 63 / Social Sciences

SOCIOLOGY: PERU


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

SEVERAL COMMON THEMES occur in the sociological literature of Peru during this review period: recovery from the violence of the 1980s and 1990s, methodological advances, globalization, economic inequality, health equality, and gender and racial discrimination.

With Peru still in recovery from the violence of the 1980s and 1990s, one has the impression of a society whose scholars are concerned that maximum attention be given to understanding what took place during the years of violence and why, in the hopes of achieving understanding and healing so the violence does not reoccur. The nine volume Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (item #bi2005006050#) contributes much to the documentation of the events that occurred during this period. The psychological impacts of the violence from the perspective of therapists who attended to many of the victims are noteworthy (item #bi2005006111#). A social history of the period (item #bi2005006059#) reveals much about the way that the Shining Path movement unfolded. State-sponsored disappearances during this period were also documented (item #bi2005006102#). A touching diary of daily life in the war zone was also published (item #bi2005006119#). Another study also reconstructs the causes and consequences of the war, with special emphasis on a model for rebuilding Ayacucho (item #bi2005006114#).

There is increasing methodological sophistication and innovation taking place in the publications reviewed during this period. By carefully adjusting their sampling strategies, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI) could make available departmental estimates and rankings for some of the major indicators of household economy (item #bi2005006095#) and living conditions (item #bi2005006098#), permitting closer monitoring of conditions in the diverse regions of the country. Use was made of baseline data to conduct subsequent longitudinal analyses of coca producers in the Huallaga Valley (item #bi2005006094#). These analyses allowed the discussion to focus on the direction of change in the region, and also served as a useful comparison for another coca region that appears to be in a similar, though more recent, trajectory.

A series of case studies examined the impacts of globalization. In one collection of case studies, researchers interviewed emigrants in their industrial country destinations, in addition to using more traditional fieldwork to explore the impacts on home communities in Peru as well as their transnational exchanges nearer to home (item #bi2005005849#). Another study looked at the impacts of television on children from a remote mountain village (item #bi2005006108#).

Peru's economy expanded during the first years of this decade, but not for everyone. Again, in pursuit of understanding past successes and failures, the dramatic structural reforms imposed during the early years of the Fujimori government were reviewed for their effectiveness (item #bi2005006104#). Two studies asked whether inequality and concentration of wealth had increased in the economy to such a degree that the traditional class structure longer survived. One study wondered whether a middle class exists any longer, and pondered its future prospects (item #bi2005006076#). Another study focused on growth of a permanent underclass and the expansion of poverty (item #bi2005006052#). Other studies looked at the growing phenomenon of working children. One combined innovative methodologies and comparison groups consisting of children belonging to street gangs and middle-class children to understand the impact that work had upon a third group: working children (item #bi2005006120#). Another pair of studies used secondary data sources to describe the bleak futures awaiting working children, although both found that the greatest problem was with the underfunded system of public education (item #bi2005006090#). One publication offered a solution to the growing inequality in the form of a welfare state, albeit a more modest version of the European models, and one adapted to the resources and culture of Peru (item #bi2005006093#). Perhaps more than resources, it is argued that what is needed is an equitable social policy.

The accumulations of health and household level economic data are providing the basis for econometric analyses of health and healthcare choices (item #bi2005006073#). Social scientists and social science methodology are entering further into the health sector as societal and cultural barriers to achieving greater progress in health are given more attention. An illustration is a study of acute hemorrhagic and icteric febrile syndromes in which social scientists helped to document the local interpretation of these diseases, their symptoms, and perceptions of treatments (item #bi2005006105#). A study of resiliency in children was conducted in some of the areas most affected by the violence of the past two decades (item #bi2005006099#) and reported on the success of projects that worked to increase resiliency among children. The proceedings of a conference concerning health inequality among adolescents (item #bi2005006081#) offer suggestions for the ways that social investments could reduce health inequality among the young, particularly between urban and rural youth. Studies of reproductive health among rural women used a participative methodology in which women's groups decided to focus upon a particular reproductive health issue and then work together to improve their understanding and achieve solutions (item #bi2005006106#).

Discrimination against women and racial groups were also studied. One study reviewed the legislation of several Andean societies to understand the ways in which laws that intended to remedy discrimination were ineffective, and analysis of why other laws were apparently more successful (item #bi2005006118#). Another study traced the origins of racial discrimination from prehistory to the present in Peru (item #bi2005006096#).


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