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Title:Time Is Money: The Social Consequences of Economic Change in Seretunin, Kenya
Author(s):Kettel, Bonnie Lee
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:This dissertation deals with the emergence of class, a relation of social categories based in differential access to the means of production, in Seretunin, a Tugen community in the Baringo District of Kenya.
Seretunin is a poor and remote community where peasant farmers still subsist on domestic production utilizing a very simple technology. But poverty is not uniform in Seretunin, and its residents are not an uncaptured peasantry. In Seretunin the process of class formation is structured by "capital", by the control which local "business men" have over the hired work-time of their neighbours. This differential access to wage labour, which is based in ownership of small-scale commercial property, in tiny shops and cash-based farms, operates in a social context which is closed by the existing lack of opportunity in the larger nation. The residents of Seretunin come together in an encompassing network of property/wage relations, an aspect of social structure which integrates life in the contemporary community, and attenuates the significance of older, but still existing social categories based in age and family. These social relations of capital, which structure access to opportunity inside and outside of Seretunin, are a critical factor in the replication of poverty and underdevelopment in the microcosm.
Capital is a new phenomenon in Tugen social organization, an aspect of social structure which has acquired relevance only in the years since Independence in 1963. The process by which capital emerged as a class relation of production is viewed in an evolutionary perspective. Analysis begins with an assessment of the shape of power in the precontact Tugen mode of production, a pursuit which provides a new look at the Tugen as "pastoralists", and a reassessment of the social significance of livestock in the precontact social formation. The dissertation shows how the contradictions in power characteristic of Tugen social organization at the turn of the century were altered in the context of colonial rule, allowing power to become a dependant variable in Seretunin, and describes the legitimation of class relations of production in the context of land consolidation and registration in the 1960's.
The activities of local business men are shown to be central to this process of class formation. Prominent amongst them are six men who were amongst the first school-boys in Seretunin. These men acquired new avenues of access to progress through their contacts with missionary and government personnel, and they also benefited from the expansion of local opportunity characteristic of Baringo District during and after World War II. They were the first commercial entrepreneurs in Seretunin, and they turned their own work-time to the search for profit, from timber-cutting and shop-keeping, and later from the establishment of cash-based farms. The profits which accrue from these activities are very small. But in Seretunin the profits of commerce are significant as a source of access to the work-time of local residents who are now dependant on established business men as their primary source of local employment, and their major channel of access to opportunity outside of Seretunin.
In Seretunin, social life revolves around the plans, activities, and opinions of local business men. They see themselves, and are seen by others, as leaders in the process of community development. They are able to follow their own economic pursuits with the expectation that their success will be admired and appreciated as a sign that Seretunin is "going ahead". Nevertheless, there is a covert aspect to progress in Seretunin as particular individuals are "factored" for success and failure in the context of class relations of production.
Issue Date:1980
Description:331 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108560
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1980

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