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Latin America perspectives a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station w s r u FM. Here now is Dr. Gardner give thought to economic activity in Latin America and the mind normally turns to sugar coffee bananas tobacco and cotton. And when it doesn't have the natives out in the heat of the day laboring over some agricultural product that thought of the Latin American economy turns to ranching or mining seldom does the idea of Latin American production include factories despite the fact that more and more factories there are calling for a more numerous industrial labor force. Turning to this underestimated factor
in Latin America's economic life is a recent book. The Peruvian industrial labor force authored by sociologist David Chaplin and published by Princeton University Press. This is a sociological analysis of change and mobility in the labor force of 13 of the largest textile factories in Peru. It explores demographic and social variables. The authors own field data are presented not only in terms of his analytical model but also in the context of extensive background information on all aspects of Peruvian life that affect labor recruitment. This background by the way would be of great interest to anyone planning to do business in Peru. There are fascinating vignettes of the history and current problems of each of the 13 firms studied.
One of the major themes in the literature on the recruitment of an industrial labor force in an underdeveloped non-Western area is that it inevitably will be an agonizing process be set by high levels of absenteeism and Labor Turnover. This may be partly attributed to an anthropological bias in favor of the maintenance or at least the durability of traditional culture. It has also been affected by what could be called a managerial bias to the effect that the primary obstacle to the development of manufacturing operations has been intransigence of the workers. The present study demonstrates that at least in the case of the Peruvian textile industry the above perspective is mistaken. This industry has not developed in the classic western pattern among other generalisations then which can be drawn from the evidence is that the
process of industrialization. However similar may be its consequences in the long run can certainly follow a variety of paths. The major substantive focus is the proven textile factory labor force and labor market. And the author is primarily interested in various types of labor mobility especially that involved in moving from a pre-industrial to an industrialising mill you. The central focus is on the dynamics of commercialization. Observing in the case of Peru how far the process of commercialization has gone and apparently will go another way of describing the perspective from which this study was undertaken would be to call it an exercise in social economics. As a sociologist primarily
concerned with the work of the world the author has been dealing with actions which already have been extensively studied by economists. One of his orientations is to rescue the quote social factor unquote from its role as a recent jewel dumping ground for him comprehensible or economically irrational behavior. Classic economic theory has always been at least the least applicable to the labor market. This limitation becomes all the more evident when Western social scientists study the process of industrialization in non-Western areas in order to comprehend what happens. Economists have become either anthropologists or social psychologists or have retreated to condemnation of such extreme deviations from economic sanity.
It seems to the author that the sociologist can contribute to an understanding of the process of industrialization in underdeveloped areas in terms that are relevant to economic interests. The linking concept is rationalization of which our focal subject of commercialization is a variety. For a sociologist study studying partially economic phenomena it seems fruitful to study the so-called edges of the labor market. That is those individuals are places our eras in which the extension of the market is being shifted in or shifted out. Therefore the author is not trying to do economics but rather he's trying to apply a sociological perspective to a substantive problem. Notably beyond the reach of what has been heretofore conventional economic analysis.
Fortunately for chaplains work for United Nations evaluation of the efficiency of Peruvian textile plants was being carried out at the time of his stay in Peru and therefore the judgments that are made regarding what becomes the most or the least efficient plant in Peru is not that of a one time short term impressionistic judgment of an outside amateur. The Peruvian textile industry was selected by Chaplin as the subject of research for a variety of reasons to begin with. As in most countries it was the earliest branch of manufacturing to be developed. There is certainly a substantial cross-cultural literature on labor recruitment in this industry and for the stage of industrialization. Also Peru has been extensively studied by archaeologist and anthropologist as well as by a series of international and United States technical commissions. But her urban and industrial social problems
have until recently received little to little scholarly attention. Peru is an interesting country for such a study in view of its status as the most promising among the generally backward Andean Indian republics in terms of its level of economic development and rate of industrial growth. Unlike its neighbor to the north Ecuador its neighbor to the south of Bolivia it has a wide variety of exports but stabilize the exchange value of its currency as well as provide relatively rich internal sources of potential capital for industrial development. Some of Peru's other relative advantages consist of at least one well developed Seaport a larger population than Ecuador or Bolivia and one urban center. The yellow zone with sufficient overhead facilities for the extensive development of the secondary manufacturing sector.
Peru is a country generally low on most lists of Latin American countries with respect to economic development. The textile industry however is sufficiently developed to permit an examination of the recruitment of industrial labor comparable to the many similar studies already available elsewhere on the world scene. The date on which this study of the recruitment of industrial labor in Peru is based. We're gathered from 13 of Peru's 40 textile mills. Nine of them are in Lima the national capital three in how to keep up and one near Cusco. The three thousand nine hundred eighteen biographies of workers were obtained from company personnel files and they include such documents as birth certificates previous employer recommendations school certificates etc. which are usually placed in the
plant office for safe keeping. It's hoped by author Chaplin that this study will contribute toward a yet to be written object Deaves social history of Republican Peru especially of the last 60 years. Histories in Peru are admittedly moving out of the traditional political and military patterns and yet we are very much in need of consideration of those people who socially are at the bottom because they are in the historical writing have to date been over looked. One of the vignettes introduced into this record by author Chaplin. Remember he is dealing with 13 factories has to do with a mill that I shall mention in a moment but first of all a word about the fact that in the plant and company sketches the names of the plants the
companies the company personnel but not the public officials have been fictionalized. Future United States social science investigations he insists in any part of Latin America have already been sufficiently damaged by the way in which espionage politics and scientific research have been confounded in this area. There's also been a case in Peru of a prominent Peruvian named in an academic article on politics in such a way that he is no longer willing to confide in North Americans and so there is perforce an air of secrecy about what the Peruvians will permit you to state dealing with one case day. We find that this factory established in 1895 by Spaniards in the second largest city of Peru was transferred a generation later to English control in large
measure because the sons of the Spaniard were unable to management and so it moved not from Peruvian control but rather of one foreign control Spanish to yet another foreign control British and indeed remains there today. There is the problem of getting educated people to come in even at the clerical level. And so there's a great gap in the whole role of management. This is a problem that persists and it is the sort of thing that keeps the younger generation from accepting the foreign domination of the scene and believing that there are unscrupulous outsiders that there are shyster local lawyers conspiring to keep the workers from becoming overseers workers from becoming managers. Indeed Peruvians beat from becoming masters of the situation despite a title which promises a bit too much because it really deserves the subtitle of the textile
industry. This sociological study is a fine interdisciplinary contribution. Rich in historical background and economic realities such as David chaplain's book The Peruvian industrial labor force the latest contribution by Princeton University Press to our awareness of Latin America. This was another programme in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station WFIU FM and are made available to this station by the national
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 29 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3544. This prog.: The Peruvian Industrial Labor Force
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-29 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:47
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 29 of 38,” 1969-03-25, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023,
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