Abstract/Details

Reluctant entrepreneurs: Doing business in the marketplace, Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia


2002 2002

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Abstract (summary)

The question explored in this dissertation is: How do the political practices and outlook of vendors and the activities associated with their occupation connect with the economic and political agenda of neo-liberalism? In answering this question, I analyze data regarding fresh produce vendors and a marketplace in the town of Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia. I note that vendors' concern for individual gain, their involvement in competition, their need to employ entrepreneurial skills, and their desire that the state remain distant from the affairs of their businesses all parallel ideological tenets associated with neo-liberalism. This parallel, I argue, is the outcome of the work entailed in selling and of the qualitative aspects of the social relations in which vendors engage. I develop my argument by, first, taking account of the socio-economic context of the region in which Challapata is located. Second, I explore the work of selling—the resources required, the social relations entailed, the decisions vendors make, and the strategies they pursue. I emphasize the role of the household in vendors' businesses and the individual nature of many of their social relations. Third, I examine the broader processes that regulate selling. Finally, I discuss previous collective political actions in which vendors have participated and offer an explanation for their current political complacency. I argue that, encountering few opportunities to gain a livelihood, vendors enter the occupation of selling. They do so reluctantly because of its inherent risks and physically demanding work. The work of selling, because it requires that one be competitive and entrepreneurial, also entails an element of individualism. This individualism is reinforced by the types of social relations upon which vendors rely. Since few rules govern the activities of Challapata vendors, they have no tangible source of collective discontent. The result is that their common interests as vendors take a backseat to their individual concerns. Nonetheless, local, regional, and national political-economic processes do influence vendors' activities and these constrain their ability to accumulate funds. Hence, subordinated within capitalism, vendors enter the marketplace as sellers. This work, however, only reproduces their subordination.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Cultural anthropology;
Business costs;
Towns;
Liberalism;
Entrepreneurs;
Studies
Classification
0326: Cultural anthropology
0505: Business costs
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences
Title
Reluctant entrepreneurs: Doing business in the marketplace, Challapata, Oruro, Bolivia
Author
Gordon, Kathleen E.
Number of pages
413
Publication year
2002
Degree date
2002
School code
0267
Source
DAI-A 64/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
0612751910, 9780612751910
Advisor
Silverman, Marilyn
University/institution
York University (Canada)
University location
Canada
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
NQ75191
ProQuest document ID
305493975
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305493975/abstract
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