Social Life and Work in Brazil's Free Trade Zone

By Leo A. Despres

Subjects: Anthropology
Series: SUNY series in Anthropological Studies of Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791405376, 322 pages, July 1991
Hardcover : 9780791405369, 322 pages, July 1991

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Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Acronyms



Substantive Considerations

Theoretical Issues

Outline of Chapters

1. Cultural Formations and the Zona Franca


The Caboclo Formation
The Urban Formation
The Zona Franca
Migration and Urban Growth


2. The Labor Process: Firms, Enterprises, and Economic Sectors


Hegemonic Industries
Peripheral Industries
The Commercial and Public Sectors
The Informal Sector


3. Economic Sectors and the Social Differentiation of Workers


The Social Selectivity of Economic Sectors
Status Inequalities
Intergenerational Patterns of Mobility
As Workers View Their Employment
Living Work and Economic Sectors


4. The Economy of Households


Household Composition and Income
Single and Multiple Income Households
Food Consumption
Consumer Durables


5. Domestic Organization and Household Economy


Households and Family Units
Status Identities and the Economic Division of Labor
The Domain of Domestic Relations


6. Manaus in Transition: Bairros and Vizinhanças


Material Dimensions of Urbanization
Institutional Changes and Popular Culture
Bairros and Vizinhanças


7. Manaus: A Theoretical View of a Microcosm


Modes of Production in the Amazon
The Marginalization of Producers
The Marginalization of Consumers
The Empirical Construction of Marginality
Global Processes, Microcontexts, and Patterns of Change




Manaus, an urban-industrial center in the Amazon, serves in this book as a microcosmic case of dependent capitalist development in Latin America. With the creation of a Free Trade Zone and a strong program of fiscal incentives in 1967, the Brazilian government initiated a large-scale project designed to establish an industrial pole in Manaus. This book is an anthropological study of the impact of this type of development on the economic, social, and cultural life of working class families.

This study underscores the work relationships between different economic sectors, the economy of households, the organization of domestic groups and, ultimately, the social engagement of working class families in the life of their neighborhoods, the city, and the larger Brazilian society. Despres examines the theoretical value of modernization, dependency, and modes of production approaches for understanding the social formation of working class populations. In discussing capitalist development in Brazil, the author grapples with the problems of urbanization, industrialization, and economic development in Latin America generally.

Leo A. Despres is Professor of Anthropology and a Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Cultural Pluralism and Nationalist Politics in British Guiana and editor of and contributor to Ethnicity and Resource Competition in Plural Societies.


"It is very well-written and makes a great contribution to the literature. The bibliography is excellent. There is nothing comparable in Portuguese or English, or on any other tropical forest area in the world that is industrializing. " — Paul Aspelin, Cleveland State University