Optimising Stability

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management

Abstract: This study discusses the risk-decisions of peasant economy. It draws examples from campesinos in Chile and suggests how these decisions may impact the future of campesinos as a distinct cultural group. Utilising a theoretical discussion, illustrated with empirical field data, some of the risks as perceived by campesinos across a region of Chile’s Central Valley are highlighted. The study first analyses how risk-decisions are made, using Lipton’s Theory of the Optimising Peasant as a framework, by drawing on risk-decision and aspiration studies from economics and psychology. It then assesses the impact that risks and risk-decisions, with particular regard to modernisation practices, may have on the future of campesinos and whether they will become depeasantisied or remain as a culturally unique group. The research finds that aspirations are often defined by social-group averages, that this may influence risk-decisions among campesinos, and that campesinos are likely to be stability, rather than optimisation seeking. Further, it suggests that a linear illustration of campesino cultural survival or loss in the market economy can be expanded. A theoretical model is proposed which incorporates modernisation decisions to explain the complex relationship between perceived risks and decisions which will influence the future trajectory of campesinos.

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