Economic And Family Analysis Essay, Research Paper
An Economic and Family Analysis of Tepoztl n
The Mexican village of Tepoztl n lies due south of the capital of Mexico City. It is not a remote area and the people who dwell there are not untouched by humanity. They actively participate in their nation s laws and government. However, an anthropological study reveals features that are interesting and unique, even though a poor and civilized town may seem to be ordinary and commonplace to the untrained eye. This report will focus on the economic systems that are present in Tepoztl n as well as how their marriage, family, and kinship structures are classified.
The economy of Tepoztl n has many traits and characteristics that make it seem to be fairly common. Oscar Lewis describes this facet of the town generally in his book Tepoztl n – Village In Mexico when he states:
Tepoztl n may be designated as a peasant society in the sense that it has an old and stable population, the villagers have a great attachment to the land, agriculture is the major source of livelihood, the technology is relatively primitive (hoe and plow), and production is primarily for subsistence, with barter persisting, although the people also participate in a money economy. (Lewis 1)
The presence of property ownership, a definition of wealth according to that property, a developed system of trade, use of a plow and oxen, and occupation specialization seem to make it a familiar situation. However, because of some other traits, such as collective labor, subsistence production, barter, and a fear of displaying wealth except on ceremonial occasions , the Tepoztl n economy resists traditional classification.
The people of Tepoztl n depend mostly on food production techniques to sustain themselves as well as to provide commerce for their economy. There are two different kinds of farming systems present in Tepoztl n. Gary Ferraro defines agriculture in his work Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective as a form of food production that requires intensive working of the land with plows and draft animals and the use of techniques of soil and water control . Horticulture, however, is farming without the use of much technology and is done mostly by hand and with simpler tools. Tepoztl n villagers use both of these methods to farm their land. The system that takes the least labor, but costs the most in terms of actual money, is the agriculture system, which is simply known as plow culture . Working with this method in Tepoztl n consists of four stages that would be key to any agriculture system. The land is first prepared for planting, then planted, cultivated, and finally harvested. Oxen are used to pull the plows, which can be either made of steel or wood depending on the job that needs to be accomplished.
However, the horticultural system used by the villagers in Tepoztl n yields almost twice as much food as plow culture because of the type of ground that is farmed. This method is merely called hoe culture. It is used in the rocky and steep terrain called cerros and texcal that draft animals and large plows are not able to work through. It would seem that more effort should be put towards this method of farming because of its yield. However, the main reason why plow culture is more widespread is because of the extreme hours and hard labor it takes to perform a horticulture system.
When it comes to how the labor is divided in either type of system, labor specialization by gender takes place. The men are expected to perform most of the labor in the field. They are also required to care for the work animals, make charcoal (an important income producer for the poor), cut wood, and make any and all larger business transactions for their respective families. Also, men perform most of the skilled occupations. On the other hand, women work around the family and house, cooking, cleaning, washing, and caring for the children.
Once the farms are harvested and other products are finished being made in Tepoztl n, these goods are distributed and sold through two ways. First, the villagers trade through a market exchange, which is where goods and services are bought and sold, often through the use of a standardized currency . The Tepoztl n people use the official currency of Mexico and conduct this type of business when buying and selling with people in other towns as well as merchants who pass through their town. Second, a barter system is used in which people trade goods with each other without the use of currency, but this usually occurs when a transaction happens between families in the village itself.
Families in the village are quite important and are also easier to classify then the economic systems of Tepoztl n. They are usually nuclear families, consisting of just parents and their unmarried children living in one household. This society s kinship classification system would be the Eskimo system because it emphasizes the nuclear family by using separate terms (such as father, sister, mother, etc.) that are not found outside the nuclear family . From time to time, there are extended families present, especially when two young people are married. They then live in a patrilocal residence (with the husband s parents) for a time. There are also some other cases where extended families occur, but these are usually more rare and are also temporary situations.
According to Lewis, the family system in Tepoztl n is always patriarchal, which means that the males have most of the power. Several factors reveal a patriarchal emphasis on family organization: a principal of male superiority (husband over wife, brothers over sisters), a strong preference for patrilocal residence, and patrilineal descent.
Although they used to be arranged years ago, marriages now in the Tepoztl n village come about by males trying to find women who are poorer and less educated than they, while females try to improve their economic status with a marriage. These partners are chosen freely, but a marriage usually occurs only with parents consent. Only monogamy (having one spouse at a time) is practiced and the wife in a marriage is expected to be submissive and loyal to her husband. Endogamy occurs frequently, with most young people marrying others from within their village of Tepoztl n. Years ago, bridewealth, compensation given by the family of the groom to the family of the bride , used to be expected at the time of marriage. In addition to actual money paid in silver pesos by the groom s family, the groom would also bring wood and water to his potential in-laws for a period of up to two years. However, this custom of giving bridewealth is not practiced any longer.
In brief, the economy of Tepoztl n relies on farming for their economy of food production as well as trade. The family system is patriarchal, with a nuclear family being standard, and with non-arranged marriages most frequently occurring. Although mainly poor laborers who live in Mexico, some of the aspects of the family culture in the small village of Tepoztl n seem to mirror ours. It is interesting to see that although these people live thousands of miles away in a different country with no direct ties to us, their very basic system of social lifestyle, technology notwithstanding, is not a great leap away from our own.