Edited by Gary Paul Green
Chapter 16: Work, mobility and livelihoods in a changing rural Latin America
Rural Latin America is made up of a diverse set of places, but global economic forces have generated a great deal of convergence among rural places in Latin America over the past two decades. The traditional Latin American peasantry – smallholder farmers engaged in agriculture for subsistence and limited marketization – is giving way to a savvy proletariat with increasingly diverse sources of income and complex linkages to national, regional and transnational economic and social networks. The transformation of the Latin American peasantry is taking place in three principal arenas. The first of these is the influx of investment capital in extractive industries since 1990 and the economic development and social resistance that this has engendered. The second is the growth in both South–South and South–North migration and the increasing importance of remittance income for rural livelihoods. Third, deepening transnational social linkages have facilitated the emergence of hybrid social movements that mobilize identity politics and the international legal system to defend rural livelihoods in new ways. Agriculture remains important for rural livelihoods in Latin America, but mobility and growing economic dynamism are bringing about transformations in the rural landscape that have implications for rural livelihoods. This chapter examines these trends and engages with two important questions: (1) Are rural peoples in Latin America experiencing improved quality of life as a result of these transformations? and (2) What are the policy implications and lessons of these trends? In Latin America, despite increasing urbanization, rural development issues remain salient.
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