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Introduction Integration of the Periphery to the Center: Processes and Consequences

Reprinted from Modernization and the Emergence of a Landless Peasantry: Essays on the Integration of Peripheries to Socioeconomic Centers, G. N. Appell, Editor. Publication No. 33. Williamsburg, VA: Studies in Third World Societies. PP. 3-49, 1985.

G. N. Appell
Brandeis University

Development has resulted in the destruction of traditional rights to land almost everywhere and, as a consequence, created a landless or near-landless peasantry. Marginal cultivators and landless workers are growing in ever increasing numbers throughout the rural regions of the Third World, so that they now form the bulk of the rural poor (Esman 1978). The members of this dispossessed peasantry must sell their labor, and often the labor of their children, at very low rates to survive (Esman 1978:ii). Hopkins, Wallerstein, et al. (1982b:69) argue that this “movement towards part-life-time proletarian household status has entailed, overall, a broadly lower level of living. ... fully subsistence households are, in general, materially better off than partly proletarianized households [those that obtain part of their income from selling their labor power]; and partly proletarianized households are, in general, less well off materially than fully proletarianized households.”

Hopkins, Wallerstein, et al. (1982b:69) maintain that the economic status of part-life-time proletarian households is because:

The labor of part-life-time proletarian households everywhere costs capital less than the labor of life-time proletarian households for exactly the same work not only because the costs of reproducing the former are partly (usually largely) borne by others than the ‘employers’ (caught up in the concept of the ‘unlimited supplies of labor’ and its effects on real wage-levels), but also because full proletarianization carries with it political conditions conducive to the growth of workers’ organizations, with their upward pressures on wage-levels ... real wage-levels ... as a result tend always to be higher in the core than in the periphery.

Growing landlessness also contributes, if not leads directly, to political instability (see Russett 1964).1 Therefore, the processes that lead to landlessness should be of considerable interest not only to those concerned with social justice, or those interested in the processes of modernization, but to a wider audience that is concerned with the political processes and future of the Third World and the relationship of the developed world to it.

In this volume we will be examining the microprocesses occurring at the village level that lead to landlessness. But these form only part of a series of interconnected events that lead to the integration of populations on the periphery into the economic web of local socioeconomic centers and eventually into the whole world system. Thus, to understand the problem of growing landlessness and its relation to this social transformation, we will have to examine the whole range of social forces that impact on local populations as the center gains control of the raw materials, labor, wealth, and ideology of the regions peripheral to it.

In delineating these processes, it is not germane to attempt a clarification of the definitions of landlessness and near-landlessness (see Esman 1978 for examples), although McCutcheon’s contribution to this volume raises interesting and important questions in this regard. We will instead be focusing on the processes involved in the social transformation of peripheral populations which are as old as the development of the first economic center after the advent of the agricultural revolution some 10,000 or more years ago.

One of the most useful conceptual orientations in this regard is the concept of center, or core, and periphery. There is a relationship in this to central place theory in geography. But this concept has found its most recent expression in dependency theory and in the work of Wallerstein, Hopkins, and their associates in their study of the world system and the impact that economic expansion of the North Atlantic states has had on the peripheral, Third World countries. But the structure of relationships that they are analyzing are not unique to the world system or to the metropolitan countries and their colonies. Each small state, each region, has its own socioeconomic center which attempts to exercise control over its peripheries and integrate the resources of those peripheral regions into its own political economy. Thus, what is needed in world system research is more consideration of the secondary centers of economic and political expansion that are located in each country and in each region, which also have an impact on their peripheries.

But what is lacking in all theoretical orientations, including world-system theory and dependency theory, is an examination of the microprocesses that occur at the village level as the periphery is integrated into the economic core (see Baker 1984 for a criticism of this with regard to dependency theory). In looking at these microprocesses at the village level, whether as a result of social forces which have been termed “colonization,” “internal colonialism,” “neocolonialism,” or “development,” it is important to recognize that these represent continuing, universal processes that are common to all situations wherever an economic center begins to expand and bring into its orbit ever increasing sections of the local populations on the peripheries. It is my contention, as I will show by a contemporary example from the State of Maine, U.S.A., that these processes are the same in the relationship of all economic cores to their peripheries regardless of time or place or level of development of the periphery.

Therefore, the goal of this monograph is not only to understand the processes which lead to the growth of a landless peasantry and the consequences in order to mitigate these deleterious processes; but it is also to produce a more developed theory of core and periphery relations with testable hypotheses by looking at the village-level microprocesses. This is important as the economic, social, and political processes at work at the centers of economic growth have been well studied by economists, political scientists, and sociologists. But the minute processes at the village level whereby the periphery is linked with the center, the processes whereby relatively independent communities are brought under the control of the center, are less well known, less well studied. We believe that this book will make a major contribution towards understanding these processes.


Physical and Psychological Coercion

The range of methods whereby the core develops control over the resources of the periphery can vary from the use of overwhelming force to more subtle methods. For example, many of the indigenous occupants of the peripheries in the Amazon Basin have been simply eliminated by the superior weaponry and technology of expanding national interests. In parts of Indonesia the tribal minorities occupying the peripheries are removed by military force to resettlement centers to free up the natural and labor resources of the peripheries for exploitation by the center (see Appell 1985b, 1985c; Appell-Warren 1985; and Appell on the Bulusu’ in this volume).

In nation states where the occupants of the peripheries have greater access to the national legal system and to the political processes, the integration of the peripheries is more subtle. Let us briefly look at an example from a rural area in the State of Maine.

The region is dependent on small-scale, part-time farming, lumbering, small-scale manufacturing, and small-scale outdoor recreation, such as providing guides for hunters and fishermen. More recently there has developed a large ski and golf resort along with associated businesses that cater primarily to those from the various urban centers who are looking for leisure recreation. Individuals from the center have also been moving into the region to occupy skilled jobs, such as carpentry, etc., supervisory jobs, such as superintendent of schools, manager of wood products companies, or to live off of income invested in the economic center. Institutions from the core have also funded institutions in the periphery, frequently sending their own personnel to run them, as in various rural Christian missions.

Recently a project was initiated, entitled “Project PRIDE,” for purposes of economic improvement. It was funded from socioeconomic centers such as the state Department of Education and foundations located in urban areas of the state. And the project was able to enlist the interest of the recreation industry and related businesses to support its activities. Many of these were having a hard time finding local labor. The ultimate source of this project was two individuals in the local regional school system who were originally from outside the region and apparently concerned about their own future employment.

It was argued by the initiators of the project that the traditional sources of employment for the local population would not be available in the future. The goals of Project PRIDE were thus explicitly to prepare the young people for jobs in the service sector, which, translated into the local economic situation, meant low paying jobs servicing the out-of-state tourists at the local ski and golf resort. In announcing this project the director wrote that the PRIDE Task Force has also identified low self-esteem as a local and economic problem. “Low self-esteem impedes achievement in school and on the job. To be successful our students will require the abilities to adapt to change and to learn new skills. The PRIDE Task Force has identified the skills and attitudes necessary to be a successful person, and a contributing, productive member of the community” (Project PRIDE n.d.:1).

Yet no survey had been made of the actual level of self-esteem. This was but one aspect of the application of stereotypes by those who had moved in from economic centers to categorize the local people and differentiate themselves as relatively sophisticated members of the economic core. Thus, many of the representatives from urban centers, such as clergy, teachers, part-time summer residents, and others who have found jobs in the region, typically complain that the local inhabitants have the highest incest rate in the country, that they have major problems of alcoholism, that they are ill housed, that they are sexually profligate producing far too many teenage pregnancies, that they are uncultured and need to be taught about good music, good theater, and good books.

The implication in the announcement of Project PRIDE was not only were the local people low in self-esteem but that they were not successful and were unable to contribute to their communities. This created a lot of hostility among that sector of the population that had been born and raised in the region. These local residents have been under increasing social pressure from the center over the last three or four decades. Individuals from the center with a surplus of cash have been buying up the farms and houses of the local population for summer retreats or for a place to live in retirement, while more and more of the local population have been forced to find housing in trailer parks.

This example illustrates one of the common threads in all attempts at bringing the periphery under greater control of the center for purposes of obtaining the resources there. It involves the use of dehumanization and attacks on self-esteem to achieve these ends, or what I have termed “psychosocial deprivation and devaluation.” But also in those instances where force is used to deprive a population of its resources, dehumanization provides the justification for action. However, in this book we will not be considering in depth the use of naked force to obtain integration, although the contribution of Appell on the Bulusu’ is relevant. But whatever the methods used, force or argument, attacks on self-esteem and dehumanization of the rural population is a universal process.


... labor is the technical term used for human beings, in so far as they are not employers but employed; it follows that henceforth the organization of labor would change concurrently with the organization of the market system. But as the organization of labor is only another word for the forms of life of the common people, this means that the development of the market system would be accompanied by a change in the organization of society itself. All along the line, human society had become an accessory of the economic system [Polanyi 1957:75 (orig. 1944)].

When members of the economic centers contact members of the periphery, they commonly treat such populations in dehumanizing terms, attack their personal worth and self-esteem, and either deny or ignore their social identity by not accepting their cultural and ethnic status. We will examine here the nature of the devaluation and deprivation of self-worth, leaving to later the problems relating to recognition of ethnic identities.

The Character of Dehumanization

One of the persistent but covert themes not only in the processes of modernization but also in social science theory itself is that of dehumanization. It is not a process solely characteristic of the contact of indigenous societies with Western society, or its derivatives. It appears to be a universal human process whenever a society wants to take control of the labor or natural resources of another society. (For example, see the chapters here on the Rungus and the Bulusu’.) Thus, even today change agents from the economic centers of various countries still denigrate and belittle the members of a population and their sociocultural system to achieve their goals of change. Usually the very act of development itself is phrased in terms that implicitly, if not explicitly, devalue the culture of the indigenous population and its members (see Appell 1975a, 1975b, 1975c, 1980). What is surprising is that dehumanization still finds expression in the social sciences in various forms and in the attitudes of Westernized indigenous elites. It is important to define the nature of dehumanization before we proceed.

Bernard, Ottenberg, and Redl (1971:102) define “dehumanization” as a defense against painful and overwhelming emotions that entails a decrease in a person’s sense of his own individuality and in his perception of the humanness of others. They view dehumanization as “not a wholly new mental mechanism but rather a composite psychological defense which draws selectively on other well known defenses, including unconscious denial, repression, depersonalization, isolation of affect, and compartmentalization ...” (1971:103).

There are both adaptive and maladaptive functions of dehumanization. The surgeon uses a form of dehumanization so that he can perform without emotional involvement. Bernard and colleagues divide maladaptive dehumanization into two processes: self-directed dehumanization, which relates to self-image and indicates a diminution of an individual’s sense of his own humanness; and object-directed dehumanization which refers to perceiving others as lacking in those attributes that are considered to be most human. The important point is that these two forms are mutually reinforcing.

Bernard and colleagues further divide object-directed dehumanization into two forms, partial and complete (1971:105):

Partial dehumanization includes the misperceiving of members of “out-groups,” en masse, as subhuman, bad human, or superhuman; as such, it is related to the psychodynamics of group prejudice. It protects the individual from the guilt and shame he would otherwise feel from primitive or antisocial attitudes, impulses, and actions that he directs--or allows others to direct--toward those he manages to perceive in these categories: if they are subhumans they have not yet reached full human status on the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, do not merit being treated as human; if they are bad humans, their maltreatment is justified since their defects in human qualities are their own fault ... The main conscious emotional concomitants ... are hostility and fear.

The more complete form of object-directed dehumanization “entails a perception of other people as nonhumans--as statistics, commodities, or interchangeable pieces in a vast ‘numbers game.’ Its predominant emotional tone is that of indifference ... together with a sense of noninvolvement in the actual or foreseeable vicissitudes of others” (Bernard, Ottenberg, and Redl 1971:105-6).

Dehumanization has been a dominant theme in Western tradition with the application of the metaphor of the machine to humans and human activities and the use of natural science models in the social sciences (Randall 1976, Rifkin 1980). And dehumanization has deep historical roots in the response of modern societies to native peoples (Appell 1975b).

The historical literature on the contact of modern, expanding societies, both capitalist and socialist, is full of pejorative terms in describing indigenous peoples. They are “savage,” “dirty,” “primitive,” “backward,” “ignorant,” and so on. “They live like animals,” is one popular phrase. This labeling process is a clear warning that the potential victims are being denied their individuality and their community with other men (see Kelman 1973, Kuper 1981:85-92). And “all members of the group are guilty solely by virtue of their membership in it” (Kuper 1981:86). Such discourse in which a group is talked about in non-human terms is essentially a danger signal that justifications are being manufactured for treating others as one would treat dangerous animals (Legum referred to in Kuper 1981:85).

While dehumanization is always deeply involved in the expansion of economic and political centers, anthropologists, usually sensitive to the stereotyping of indigenous peoples, have not generally followed up the implications of such discourse. Such discourse is preparatory to forcibly dispossessing an indigenous people of their material and labor resources. This provides the justification for actions which would not be sanctioned if the target population were really “like us.” Dehumanization discourse puts the target population beyond the normal moral restraints in dealing with others.

Dehumanizing discourse has many other psychological functions as well. It has ego functions in supporting one’s claim to superiority. Another function is to resolve the cognitive confusion that arises in viewing the social behavior, culture, and cultural ecology of another group. “Things” are out of place to the outsider. Common symbol vehicles may be used to indicate different meanings. As Douglas (1966) has pointed out, when matter is out of place it is referred to as “dirty.” And this is one of the paramount reasons that the members of indigenous societies are almost universally referred to as “dirty.” The organization of their material world is different from that of the outsider, and cognitively threatening.

Dehumanizing discourse in putting the victims beyond one’s moral community also serves deeper psychological functions for the victimizer. First, it permits the victimizer to usurp resources without guilt, as well as without conflicts from cognitive discontinuity. It also involves the projection of deep psychological impulses. Commonly, members of the center refer to the members of the peripheries as “lazy,” “drunkards,” “immoral,” “dirty,” “savages,” and the like (e.g. Alatas 1977). While this is an expression of the victimizers’ anxieties in dealing with people who are not members of their moral community, it also represents the projection on others of the victimizers’ deep impulses that are constrained by their cultural rules. Those who are beyond the cultural rules of the victimizers’ society must, in fact, be savages. They represent the more “savage” unconscious desires and impulses of the members of the center. Only by bringing these peripheral savages into the cultural rules of the center can they be saved from the antisocial impulses attributed to them, and thus the members of the center are saved from themselves.

Dehumanization processes may also include a cloud of officially sanctioned semantics to clothe the use of immoral force and to hide the true purposes of government action. Such terms as “re-education centers,” “resettlement,” and the like may be used (see Kelman 1973:48).

In addition to dehumanizing labeling and a sanctioned semantics of manipulation, there is frequently a theory to rationalize destructive actions, such as “progress,” or “evolution.” Kuper writes (1981:88-89), “Colonization was linked to evolution, the conquered peoples being conceived as lower in the scale of evolution with rights and capacities by no means comparable to those of their conquerors.”

Dehumanization of the periphery is thus in the service of the economic interests of the center and the resolution of the psychological conflicts involved in dominating a peripheral population. These processes of dehumanization are always present in every attempt at modernization. In this monograph these processes are detailed by Appell in his analysis of modernization among the Rungus and the Bulusu’.

Dehumanization and Self-Esteem

Another function of dehumanizing discourse is to erode the self-esteem of the target population in order to make control of it easier. These threats to self-esteem are part of the whole process of deprivation of personal worth and the devaluation of social and ethnic identity that occurs when a population is confronted with development or modernization. And the acceptance of the dehumanizing stereotypes of self-worth by the target population then makes it much easier for the government and change agents to manipulate that population and bend it to their will.

In situations where force is inappropriate and where explicit dehumanization through negative stereotypes is discouraged, such as in relations between centers and peripheries in the United States, attacks on self-esteem are, nevertheless, an integral part of attempts at integration. Thus, whether force is used or not, the processes whereby the center or representatives of the center get control of the resources of the peripheries, both labor and material, have a common theme, irrespective of time or place, as the example from rural Maine illustrates.

Additional Functions of Psychosocial Deprivation and Devaluation

Psychosocial deprivation and devaluation serve many other functions. They create jobs for those of the emerging elites in the center, who are employed to go out and teach the new cultural traits and administer the peripheral populations. But many of the new cultural traits are of less value for survival in the rural environment than those that the local population have already devised to deal with their ecosystem (see Appell 1975a, n.d.c). Therefore, what other reasons might there be for this structure of interaction between the center and the periphery in which the peripheral population is regarded as so degraded and so useless? Why are there not fewer self-imposed culture bearers and more cultural preservers recording what is of importance before it is lost?

Perhaps the answer lies now in a universal culture of development and progress that predetermines these relations. But there may also be deeper social functions of the peripherization process. The members of the center live in situations of rapid social change. Their social positions are frequently unclear because of this, under threat, and constantly needing redefinition as social circumstances change. By defining themselves vis-`a-vis the periphery as being superior, the members of the center are able to justify their social positions, creating a more stable and stronger social identity. Particularly for those new to the center, dehumanizing the inhabitants in the peripheries help establish their membership in the center.2

The Return of Dehumanization

Dehumanization of victims has the consequence of dehumanizing the victimizer (see Kelman 1973:50-52). The victimizer loses his sense of community and identity with others. He becomes increasingly brutalized to “the extent that he is dehumanized, and loses the capacity to act as a moral being” (Kelman 1973:51). This is one of the unexpected and unpredicted consequences of modernization. And it suggests that wise planning for development and modernization, if the society is to function well, should include explicit policies and efforts to prevent any attempts at the psychosocial deprivation and devaluation of any segment of the country’s population.


The speed at which peripheries are integrated into the economic sphere of sociopolitical centers depends on the amount of force used. Thus, the various stages of integration listed below can be short-circuited with force. This list of stages is not necessarily in chronological order so much as in order of development and loss of independence.

1. Travelers and traders arrive in the periphery. Epidemics of contagious diseases such as measles, tuberculosis, small pox, mumps, etc., sweep through the indigenous population resulting in a major population decline. Cohorts of children are particularly decimated. But this does not mean that the indigenous group was previously completely isolated. Epidemics may have periodically swept through the group as a result of contact with a mediating indigenous group who were in earlier contact with traders and travelers. And trade goods may have reached the group previously through mediating indigenous groups.

2. The government makes itself known and attempts to develop a monopoly over the use of force in the region. This involves the appointment of local level political leaders, such as chiefs or headmen, to represent the government interests. Either existing local leaders are selected for this, or the government picks its representatives from outside the indigenous political hierarchy. In the later case the indigenous leaders are undermined, and this can create factions and conflict. In both cases it is likely that the newly appointed government representatives will have greater power than under the indigenous structure (see Glazier in this volume).

3. The government next attempts a census of the population and imposes a tax, creating a demand for money in a situation where there is only a small elasticity of money supply.

4. Dehumanizing labels are used to refer to the local populations by members of government and members of the economic and sociopolitical core. Terms such as “primitive,” “savage,” “dirty,” “backward,” “lazy,” “dumb,” “animals,” make their appearance. A semantics of manipulation also develops in government circles as policy is designed for economic development and obtaining control over indigenous resources for the benefit of the core. Thus, government policy is phrased in a sanitized semantics to disguise any authoritarian or illegal procedures used in manipulating and gaining control over the local populations. This semantics itself adds to the processes of dehumanization (see Kelman 1973). For example, the European Jews in World War II were told that they were going to “resettlement centers,” and it is an interesting coincidence that many countries refer to the centers where they put their tribal minorities as “resettlement centers” or “re-education centers.”

5. For purposes of government and increasing commerce, transportation and communication improvements are made, starting with improved paths and trails to commercial centers. Eventually roads are built into the peripheral areas, aircraft landing fields are constructed, small ports are established, etc. This includes the installation of radio communication or telephone connections with government posts and the developing economic centers in the peripheries.

These improvements in communications and travel provide better security for travelers and the movement of goods. It also facilitates the movement of labor from the hinterland to plantations and other centers of economic activities.

6. As the peripheral community is integrated into a national network of communication and trade, epidemics every decade or so continue. The loss of time and energy to these diseases may cause sufficient biosocial incapacity so that the community is unable to maintain its cultural ecology.

7. There is a development of small shops servicing the local population. The goods available are, by and large, consumables such as sugar, flour, candy, soft drinks, cloth, etc. Thus, excess cash or agricultural products rather than being converted into assets as previously are used to purchase consumables. New forms of property are also introduced which depreciate, such as radios, clocks, etc. As a result there is less surplus to invest into the traditional forms of property, which may have been nondepreciable, and less motivation to do so. As a consequence, the old forms of investment drop in value.

8. As the old forms of property drop in value, there is a loss of mechanisms whereby agricultural surpluses may be saved and invested. Each society has various methods of investing its surplus, which serves as a buffer against times of trouble. However, as a cash economy develops with alternative uses for cash and surpluses, there is a lack of interest in investing in the old forms of property, such as beads, gongs, headdresses, brassware, weaving, various forms of primitive “money,” etc., particularly since these forms of property are losing their value. In a real sense the community becomes poorer through a deflation of property values. At the same time the methods of savings used in the metropolitan community are not in place. There are no banks at the village level (e.g. Ploeg 1985a:268). There are no postal savings, etc. In Canada to deal with this problem at one point a flying bank was instituted to service remote northern communities.

9. Members of the local population may become indebted to shopkeepers in order to purchase consumer goods. Shopkeepers may in fact encourage this indebtedness so that they may gain control over the land, the labor, and sale of the produce of their debtors (see Appell 1978:144-45; Baks in this volume).

10. Government development planning for the periphery increases. The administration is frequently ambivalent on how to manage local ethnicity, whether to recognize it or override it as a hinderance to nation-building. But whatever the case the administration continues to view the local populations in stereotypic and dehumanized terms.3 Goals of the planning include plans to make the members of the periphery less group oriented and more individualistic. This refers to the belief that tradition impedes development.4 The papers in this volume of Dove, Eder, and Appell illustrate the falseness of this assumption.

Also prevalent is the belief that the members of the periphery are not true economic maximizers, that they have to be taught to be economic rationalizers. This is not in fact the case but only the perception of the members of the center who are ill-informed about the context of decision-making at the village level, including the parameters of the ecosystem (see the various contributors to Bartlett 1980 who discuss this issue).5

11. Government departments intrude into village life. Medical services are instituted to deal with the health needs created by integration. And this results in population increase, putting pressure on the resources of the region.

12. At some point in the integration of the peripheries to the core, missionaries appear on the scene. The ideology of the peripheral group is a threat to the core, and the function of missionaries is to help change this ideology to match that of the core. Their work also results in creating a more commoditized and monetized vision of the world. For example, at the simplest level they begin to pass the collection plate at services. Like the representatives of government, missionaries also view the inhabitants of the peripheries as not fully optimizing, not realizing that subsistence farmers and peasants are universally optimizing individuals but who are basing their decisions on different values and different risks.

13. Psychosocial deprivation and devaluation increases in intensity. Indigenous clothing and local handicrafts are ridiculed. In some instances the local population is forbidden to wear their traditional clothing (see Appell 1975a, 1985b, 1985c; Appell-Warren 1985). The local language is disparaged and discouraged. For example, the speech of hunting and gathering groups on the peripheries may be referred to as sounding like birds. It may be forbidden to use the local language in schools, and pupils may be punished for doing so (see Ashcroft 1978).

14. The increase in the cash economy and the conversion to Christianity, or Islam, produce social differentiation within the village so that interest groups and factions form opposed to each other in the maneuvering for power, prestige, and property. Frequently, religion becomes the focus of conflict between parent and child (e.g. Young 1987).

15. The meaning of work and life is slowly eroded by government pressures on the peripheral population to change the basis of their economizing decisions from their own values to the values of the center; by the pressures of missionaries to have their symbolic interpretation of the social order accepted; and by the denigration of the traditional culture by both government personnel and missionaries. Work in indigenous societies is supported by a complex web of ritual and religious meanings which provide motivations for it. These also provide meaning to life. With the breakdown of the traditional ways, work no longer has meaning other than its cash value. Labor power is exchanged for money rather than exchanged for more fundamental, religious rewards in response to existential concerns (see Marglin 1984:43; Appell 1985d).

16. At some point in the continuum of integration of the periphery into the core a revitalization movement (Wallace 1956) usually arises. These movements represent “creative efforts to repair the fabric of societies rent by forces over which the indigenous peoples had little or no control” (Adas 1979:xxvii). Thus, in the face of economic, military, or cultural domination they are “attempts to create viable new ideologies, institutions, and social bonds in situations where long-standing world views and customary relationships were eroded ...” (Adas 1979:xix). The form and content of these movements have differed greatly, some involving violence and organized resistance to the forces from the center while others have stressed peaceful reform or passive withdrawal (Adas 1979:xviii). Such movements include types that have been called “nativistic,” “millennial,” “messianic,” “revivalistic,” etc.

17. The government administrative machinery develops and intrudes further into indigenous life but without sufficient bureaucratic controls or feedback. This fosters the development of predatory traders, corrupt government personnel, and various schemes to defraud local individuals of their rights and property (see Appell 1985a, 1985b; Appell-Warren 1985). Alliances between government personnel and traders may develop to exploit opportunities for illegal gains with respect to services provided the local population or to gain control over local resources. The failure of administrative feedback and controls fosters corruption (see Glazier in this volume) and may result in anti-government activity (see Appell 1966).

18. The use of money increases and has a higher transaction value than its face value due to its scarcity. More and more activities become commoditized and monetized, particularly labor, land, and wealth transactions. This represents further movement along the continuum, which Wolf (1969:279) describes:

Where previously market behavior had been subsidiary to the existential problems of subsistence, now existence and its problems became subsidiary to marketing behavior.

19. The national legal system is imposed on the village for the major crimes and for disputes unresolvable at the village level. This results in a plural jural system composed of the indigenous and the imposed, which permits greater differentiation and the development of factions within the village through the use and manipulation of the two jural systems for personal ends.

20. Inefficient markets develop with marked swings in prices of commodities. For example, right after harvest the price obtained for grain is unreasonably low. When there is a shortage just before next harvest and individuals have to purchase grain to cover their shortfall, the price of grain rises precipitously. The appearance of inefficient markets can drain the peasant community of many of its assets because of the vagaries of agricultural yields.

21. The substitution of goods manufactured at the center for local manufactured products, many but not all of which were the product of household labor, accelerates. For example, locally woven cloth is replaced by cloth made at various economic centers. Under-employment at the village level may develop as manufactured products substitute for local products.

22. Wage labor begins. Cash is needed to meet tax payments and for other goods that have become available through traders and shops. The opportunities for wage labor may be at a considerable distance from the home village, necessitating the migration of labor for part of the year or for several years. This causes family instability and various other social problems. Such wage labor is frequently on plantations (see Crump in this volume). The government, in addition to taxation, may stimulate the growth of a labor force for plantations by discouraging agricultural entrepreneurship in the peripheral populations (see Glazier in this volume).

Other forms of wage labor may also become available such as working as laborers in expeditions searching for oil or minerals. The opening up of mines may also provide an opportunity for employment.

23. The shift continues from subsistence agriculture with surplus invested in material or social assets to a cash crop agriculture with surplus invested in personal consumables. Cash cropping brings with it a dependence on a distant market and on information. The farmer needs information about that market and changes in it, as well as agricultural information on managing new crops, on fertilizers, the handling of new pests, etc. Yet one of the significant characteristics of the periphery is that information is scarce and not readily available (e.g. Ploeg 1984). As a result the members of the periphery are at a disadvantage in responding to economic changes and opportunities and are, therefore, more vulnerable to exploitation by representatives from the center or by those who have clear channels of information from the center.

24. The government ignores the indigenous system of land tenure, or attempts to destroy it, and imposes its own system on the local cultural ecology. One of the founding myths of the capitalistic form of integration is that of “primitive communism.” Local forms of land tenure and ownership are destroyed or ignored and change is instituted on the unsupported charge that the population is “communistic,” or “communal,” with the goal being to introduce individualism and private ownership for purposes of development (see Appell 1985d; Appell’s article on the Rungus in this volume; Glazier in this volume; Dove 1985). It is to the advantage of the government to ignore the indigenous system of property ownership in order to gain control of the population’s resources. And this process occurs even in those cases in which private ownership and enterprise are a critical part of the indigenous sociocultural system (see the chapter on the Rungus in this volume).

25. The government also imposes its own system of community settlement, which is inefficient in terms of operating the indigenous cultural ecology, adding to the costs of production (see the situation among the Bulusu’ in this volume).

26. With the breakup of indigenous settlement patterns and the destruction of the native system of land tenure, the opportunity is created for capital to move from the core to the periphery to purchase land or start plantations, taking advantage of the local labor.

27. With growing individualization of economic activities and land tenure, rural social stratification increases (see Glazier in this volume). Furthermore, the government system of land tenure, in which individuals rather than corporate groups hold title to land, facilitates the land being used as security for loans. Loans are incurred to cover tax assessments, the purchase of consumer goods, to cover periods of bad harvest, and to purchase agricultural inputs to increase productivity. If the environment is unpredictable, it may be impossible to repay loans and local title to lands shifts to the moneylenders (see Baks’s article in this volume).

28. The symbolic expression of the village social order is attacked by both missionary and government personnel. The argument frequently is that the symbolic activities and the indigenous system of redistribution is economically wasteful (see Appell for an example of this among the Bulusu’). This approach does not consider the latent functions of such activities. Every social system develops its own symbolic elaborations (see Homans 1950), which serve a variety of critical functions other than meeting solely economic needs; and these other functions are just as important to human life. On the other hand, the symbolic activities of the members of the economic center are not viewed as wasteful but necessary to be a fully functioning member of society. They do not see that these are just as “irrational” and have their own function for redistribution and symbolic expression (e.g. Appell 1985a, 1985b; Appell-Warren 1985; Tibbles 1957).

29. The new political figures and power brokers that have been arising to mediate between the local population and the outside consolidate their control at the expense of traditional leaders. They control and broker the services and resources offered by the government and other representatives from the core to the local population as well as the labor services of the local population to the center. The local system of redistribution and protection against risks begins to break down and starts to reorganize around these new power figures (see Crump’s paper in this volume).

30. Plantation owners may oppose the further development of cash cropping by the indigenous populations, which would enable them to earn money in ways other than by working on expatriate-owned plantations. As a result, there is a delay in developing local extension support for cash crops, and marketing facilities are not created (see Ploeg 1985a:225). The consequence is that there is little knowledge among the local populations of the markets for their produce or labor (see Ploeg 1985a:262-64).

31. Schooling is begun at some point. Its goal is usually to educate the children for skilled work in government administration. There is no effort to focus the education on an agricultural future. (e.g. Ploeg 1985a:256). And the family’s labor pool is reduced.

32. The monetization of agricultural transactions rapidly expands.

33. The breakdown of traditional redistributive and maintenance mechanisms within the community is almost complete. Under the traditional form of organization there were redistributive mechanisms that provided support to those in need and which protected the community against health and agricultural risks. Also, under the traditional form of social order, there were maintenance mechanisms that controlled behavior by various sanctions. With the breakup of the traditional settlement pattern, with new forms of property and systems of ownership growing, with the loss of the traditional system of land tenure, with the breakdown of traditional sanctions for behavior, all of which is part of the whole pattern of growing individualism that disarticulates the individual from the community, there is growing anomie, family instability, and antisocial activities.

34. As the traditional support mechanisms break down, the government develops new institutions such as cooperative societies and credit agencies to help develop community integration so that the community will be more responsive to development plans.

35. As the depersonalization of transactions and relationships grows, contractual forms of relationships increase.

36. Production of cash crops increases at the expense of food production. This brings about an increasing dependency on purchased foods (e.g. Ploeg 1985b:314), which may leave the community open to starvation if there is a drop in prices of cash crops (e.g Prentice 1969).

37. The commoditization of land transactions increases. Land is first put up as security for loans to tide a family over a bad agricultural year or for agricultural inputs. Eventually a market for the sale and purchase of land develops. However, with excess cash in the economy accumulating in the urban centers, this can then be invested in the rural areas, with the growing loss of local control over land.
The individualization of land tenure and the creation of a market for land sales are crucial steps in the processes whereby peripheral populations are separated from their ownership of land. In many cultural areas in the Insular Southeast Asian region, only those residing in a village may use the land there under traditional law. This suggests a useful model for governments concerned with a growing landless peasantry. They can mitigate the loss of local ownership of land by requiring that any sale of land be made only to those resident in the village where the land lies. This can slow the flood of excess capital from the centers to the peripheries for investment in land under absentee ownership.

38. This whole period of change is characterized by the intrusion of the predatory aspects of the larger economic system into the local economic system and the disruption of it. And at the same time the full structure of the economic system that helps create wealth, such as savings, legitimate lending institutions, information services, etc., are not introduced nor are support institutions introduced. By support institutions I mean not only those that help the individual weather difficulties, such as medical services, welfare services, etc., but also those services that help the individual compete more appropriately, such as in-depth agricultural services, education, etc. When eventually these “modern” systems of support and educational services are instituted in the peripheries, they are of lower quality than those provided to the populations in the economic center, which puts the peripheries at a further disadvantage.

39. Agrobusiness enterprises grow in size to take advantage of the labor supply.

40. Throughout this period of change, policy formation is made at the center with little knowledge of the needs or wants of the local populations or little knowledge of the appropriateness of plans to the local conditions (see Alam and Glazier in this volume). As the local level is not integrated into the policy making mechanisms, not only are the plans inappropriate, but those at the local level also know very little about the processes that are at work to integrate them into the center, and therefore they are unable to respond appropriately (see Ploeg 1985a:260).

41. Landlessness grows, but the opportunities for wage labor are restricted primarily to males. This results in the underemployment of women and children who previously were contributing to the local economy through work in the fields. This exacerbates the decline of the viability of the local economy. And it is associated with growing social stratification and the potentiality of class conflict. As Torry writes (1986a:31): ”all things considered, the more arable land a man is forced to mortgage or sell at a loss, the greater the peril his wife and daughters face owing to a reduction in the need for their labor ...”

42. Temporary and permanent emigration of population from the periphery begins. Young people move to the center for education. More ecological niches exist in the urban centers, and people move to the cities. This is not only because of the employment opportunities there, which no longer exist in the periphery, but also because by being there they are closer to the pulse of change and opportunity. Others, who lack opportunity and land in the periphery and do not migrate to the cities, swell the landless peasantry that works as migrant agricultural labor.

43. Government increases its efforts in welfare ventures to deal with the economic and social deprivation in the periphery. This becomes a form of redistribution of surplus from the core to the periphery.

44. Tourism and recreation industries develop in the periphery. The periphery begins to attract the affluent from the economic centers for purposes of recreation, retirement, and vacations. It also attracts those who find that the social conditions of the center are not congruent with their interests and need for quality of life.

The Return of the Repressed

With modern transportation, the technology and skills of the center can be rapidly dispersed to the periphery. Thus, capital moves from the center to establish manufacturing plants in third and fourth order centers located out in the peripheries where the cost of labor power is lower. Many products are now manufactured in the periphery that were originally manufactured in the center and which provided employment in the center. This raises unemployment in the center. The original repressed, that is the populations in the peripheries, have returned to cause disintegration in the center, and the center starts to retaliate by setting import quotas.


As the center extends its economic and political control over the population and resources in the peripheries, the population there is faced with major changes in its settlement patterns, its economics, its property systems, its organization of work, its ideology, and even its family organization (see Appell n.d.a for examples of these). This then creates demands for adaptation, and if the changes are too rapid, it may create an adaptation overload. At the same time the indigenous support systems are eroded and the cultural defense mechanisms for protecting the population against disease in their environment are destroyed. As a result, there is increasing psychological, physiological, and behavioral impairment in the population in the periphery.6
For example, changes in the cultural ecology of the population, such as a shift from cultivating dry rice to wet rice, exposes the population to a new set of pathogens and health risks for which cultural defense mechanisms may not have yet been devised. And previous cultural defense mechanisms against disease may be eroded by government intervention. Thus, among the Rungus of Sabah, Malaysia, the government decreed that pigs should be kept in pens. This removed a source of excrement disposal from under and around the longhouse as well as eliminated the process whereby coconut shells and anything that might catch water were being turned over and disturbed so that malaria carrying mosquitoes had fewer breeding opportunities near the settlements.

Impaired self-esteem has been associated with increased ill health. Consequently, as the peripheral population is subjected to dehumanization and attacks on its self-esteem, not only is its ability to cope eroded but also its health status as well. Associated with these threats to self-esteem, acts of dehumanization, and loss of a functioning cultural system, as the population is being integrated into the core, are disturbances of social identity, which again are found associated with health impairments.

Social stress depresses the response of the immune system. Consequently, the social stress that arises as a result of dehumanization and the demands for socioeconomic change lowers the ability of the physiological system to respond to disease, and we can expect the incidence of disease among the peripheral population to rise on this account alone during periods of rapid social change.

The capacity to manage social stress, to respond to demands for adaptation, and to resist disease is related not only to a population’s level of self-esteem but also to the vitality of its support systems. These support systems are found in the various symbolic activities, in the network of kin, in the structure of friendship, in the willingness of neighbors to help. Yet integration to the center uniformly results in the destruction of settlement patterns, the narrowing of kin obligations, the breakup of neighbor and friend relations. As a result, the community support mechanisms are eroded at a time when they are most needed and before other support mechanisms always found in the center are made available.

The integration of the periphery to the core also creates role conflict and ambiguity as new roles are learned and old roles changed and eroded. But role conflict and ambiguity have also been found associated with various health impairments.

In addition to adding to the adaptation load of a population, change contributes to a sense of psychological loss as old institutions and beliefs change and disappear. This psychological loss has been found to be analogous to the sense of psychological loss experienced in the death of a significant other (see Appell 1980, n.d.a). Using this analogy, one would expect to find, during stages of rapid change and integration into the core, periods of hostility and aggression interspersed with periods of apathy as well as various forms of health impairment, until the trajectory of social bereavement is worked through.

These symptoms of social bereavement, along with psychosocial deprivation and devaluation and role conflict and ambiguity, form a characteristic set of phenomena that accompany rapid social change. I have termed this the “social separation syndrome” (Appell 1980). In certain cases, unless it is properly managed, the population may never regain its psychosocial health and will either die out or linger as a rural depressed population that cannot adapt to any challenge, exhibiting various diseases of maladaptation.

Thus, the increased adaptation load on the population has a spiraling effect. It creates health impairments, which cannot be successfully coped with during the breakdown of local support and maintenance institutions. This in turn adds to the adaptation load and precipitates ever increasing maladaptation, which adversely affects psychobiologically impaired as a result of the demand overload on the members of the parental generation, who cannot adequately parent their children at these times.

The association of health impairments, psychological, behavioral, and physiological, with adaptation overload suggests a hypothesis that explains many of the observations made about populations on the periphery. These populations during the periods that they are being integrated into the core will express greater apathy, alternating at times with greater hostility, higher rates of antisocial acts, greater family instability, higher rates of disease and disability, greater impairment in the ability to work than at times of little social change. And this hypothesis would also apply to populations living in internal peripheries, which may be near the center but which have been passed by in previous phases of expansion.

The more the conditions of integration are dictated by the members of the core, the greater will be the social dislocations and symptoms of maladaptation in the peripheral populations. The greater the control over the processes of integration that the members of the periphery have, on the other hand, and if given sufficient time to adapt to change, the more appropriate will be the response of the periphery to the challenge. Development will then be endogenously driven rather than exogenously. And as a result it will be less stressful, more successful, and permanent.7


McCutcheon analyzes the development of land scarcity on Palau as a result of various factors, including a series of colonial administrations that never understood the indigenous system of land tenure. There are now a large number of individuals with no title to land. Yet because of the institution in which usufruct is freely shared, the Paluans are not land poor. However, this may not be so in the future.

Nowak in her study of the Btsisi’ of Peninsular Malaysia first reviews the former British colonial policy on reservations and then the present Malaysia government policy on resettling of the Btsisi’ and other Orang Asli groups. As a result of economic development, particularly plantations, land is scarce for these peoples. They have been moved to reserves, where in the case of the Btsisi’ there is both a health problem and a scarcity of fresh water. One of the basic goals of the government is to convert these people to Islam and teach them Malay culture. The future for the Btsisi’ is not very bright as there is increasing land scarcity, particularly for the next generation, and yet there is some question as to what other forms of work will be available.

Appell in his article analyzes the consequences of development and social change among Rungus of Sabah, Malaysia. He describes how development policies, ignoring the Rungus land tenure system, have set in motion changes that have produced land scarcity. And development projects have been largely unsuccessful because they were designed without understanding the complex human ecology of the Rungus domestic family system. This is based on a complex agroecology that provided many types of crops and many pathways for subsistence and income so that the failure of any one part would not jeopardize a family’s livelihood. Monocropping, on the other hand, is vulnerable to ecological disaster and price fluctuations outside Rungus control. However, the growing scarcity of land has not produced major social dislocations because there have been opportunities for wage labor in government jobs and in the private sector and because there is an educational system which facilitates socioeconomic mobility through preparing the students for positions of significance and power in the government hierarchy or in private enterprise. On the other hand, if there is an economic recession and these opportunities contract, then the scarcity of land may become a critical issue.

Dove describes an important example of endogenous development in his study of the historical modifications of Kantu’ Dayak land tenure system. The Kantu’ are a people of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Dove shows how the traditional system of land tenure was changed and modified by the Kantu’ themselves to respond to social developments and growing scarcity of land. During the time of interethnic warfare, the Kantu’ cut primary forest for their swiddens. It was more economical given the contingencies of warfare and provided greater safety. With peace, however, secondary forest became preferred, as it produced a greater yield. Also the planting of rubber tree groves on old swiddens began. As a result of this, and contact with the nearby Iban, the land tenure system of the Kantu’ changed from one where the cutting of primary forest did not create any permanent usufruct rights to one in which permanent usufruct rights were created and owned by the household that cut the primary forest. When a household moved to another village, the secondary forest over which it owned usufruct rights reverted to the village reserve, and any resident could cut the forest and establish permanent usufruct rights. But then with growing population pressure, this customary law (adat), again changed. Now the land in the village reserve became actively administered by the village headman so that resident households were given turns in cultivating the secondary forest abandoned by those leaving the village. As the processes of integration continued, still further developments arose. Dove’s contribution is an important one in that he shows how a society can change on its own to challenges and respond effectively when it has the time and is not being forced to react to policies determined by the economic centers.

Appell describes the processes whereby the Bulusu’ of East Kalimantan, Indonesia, have been removed from their traditional village areas to resettlement sites. He presents a synopsis of traditional Bulusu’ society and analyzes how it is being changed by the resettlement process. This involves the loss of cultural identity, and the use of authoritarian methods to create the change that the Bulusu’ do not welcome. Not only are the Bulusu’ becoming land poor, entering the national economic system at the lowest strata, but the process of resettlement has disrupted the endogenous integration of their economy with the regional economy that they had already begun. This has resulted in a significant drop in the export of Bulusu’ agricultural products to the nearby port city, and as a result the region has become economically poorer. The Bulusu’ present another example of that endogenous development, has been more economically sound than has development planned from above.

Eder asks the question whether tropical upland agriculture can develop in a direction that does not lead to environmental degradation and progressive socioeconomic inequality with an absolute increase in poverty. He is concerned with how to avoid the pattern of upland development that leads not simply to impoverishment but to eventual landlessness. He examines three relatively successful communities in the Philippines that are characterized by small-holder agricultural economies based on shifting cultivation. He reaches three conclusions. First, subsistence production should be viewed as something to coexist with cash production, not as something to be phased out. This minimizes the need for farmers going into debt. Second, diversity of crops not simplification is associated with economically successful communities, as this helps reduce risks and encourages entrepreneurial activities. Furthermore, the mixture of cash-intensive activities with labor-intensive activities within the same community enables the excess of capital or labor in one economic activity to flow to other economic pursuits within the local community rather than being attracted towards the economic centers. Third, for the long-term viability of such communities it is important to combine agriculture with tree crops and the use of grasslands for domesticated animals. Eder points out the that the great advantages of mixed farming regimes is that they promote social stability and stimulate entrepreneurship. And he concludes that critical to the development of economically sound upland farming communities is security of land tenure. Thus, national governments in their own self-interest must recognize this and act on it now to protect the indigenous land tenure systems.

A further interesting aspect of Eder’s study is that all three communities predominantly maintained control over their destinies. Their futures were not being dictated from the core. The Ikalahan case is particularly interesting, in that this ethnic group is not only directing its own agricultural development but in addition controls its own high school.

The Adivasi live in South Gujarat, India. Baks examines the history of land reform to evaluate how it affected the Adivasi. The Adivasi in the early stages of integration of the periphery to the economic centers came under the control of moneylenders. And much of the British colonial legislation was used by these moneylenders to continue their control over Adivasi land. Even the land reforms after Independence did not result in the betterment of the Adivasi position. The Adivasi represents clearly a situation in which landlessness is a product of administrative misperception and malfunctioning.

Alam shows that in Bangladesh landlessness, near-landlessness, and rural impoverishment have increased significantly in recent years. He analyzes the many factors that have contributed to this. He concludes that a large segment of the rural population has been impoverished and the problem of landlessness exacerbated as a result of the unrealistic and inappropriate programs developed by planners, bureaucrats, and politicians who lack an awareness and an understanding of what the conditions are at the village level. Thus, the hope that the new rice technology and the new forms of cooperatives would alleviate rural landlessness and impoverishment has not worked out because the larger landholders have had more access to sources of credit and therefore have had a higher participation in the new rice technology. On the whole these programs of rural development have been of little help to the small landholder.

Glazier discusses the general policy of land reform in Kenya during the colonial period and post-Independence. Originally, the colonial administrators supported and reinforced the traditional land tenure system to inhibit agricultural entrepreneurship among the Africans so as to ensure a supply of labor. The post-colonial Kenya government developed an agricultural policy with an emphasis on rural capitalism and developing entrepreneurship among the small farmers. The assumption is that customary modes of land tenure inhibit agricultural output. The government has, therefore, introduced individualization of land tenure in an attempt to terminate control over land by kinship groups. This will enable farmers to pledge their titles to land as collateral for agricultural loans, which, in the official view, will accelerate rural development. Glazier examines the impact of this policy on the Mbeere, a patrilineal, egalitarian people with a mixed economy based on agriculture and livestock raising.

For the Mbeere to obtain individual title to land, first the rights of the lineage to its land have to be established and then land held by the lineage has to be distributed to its agnates. As a result, disputes and conflict over land have risen precipitously, and the courts are now clogged with land dispute cases. Chiefs and their lineages are having greater success in these because of their position. Chiefs were originally appointed under colonial rule, and this imposed a political hierarchy upon an originally acephalous society. These chiefs increased their economic position by their cash wages and the acceptance of gifts of livestock for favors. The conflict over land has resulted in growing self-seeking, the breakdown of community solidarity, and an increased fear of strangers. Where before there was no shortage of land, there is now the prospect of a marked disparity in land distribution. Thus, land reform has resulted in the accelerated formation of rural classes on a previously egalitarian society. With a growing population and the increase in social stratification based on access to land, it now appears that a class of landless, or near-landless workers, will develop laboring for a better-off class of landholders, or the landless and near-landless will have to migrate to urban areas where already there are not enough opportunities for job seekers.

Crump analyzes the social and economic transformations that have occurred among the Chamula, an Indian community located in the highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas. The old agricultural system was based on the swiddening cultivation of maize and the raising of sheep for their wool on grassland converted from forest. The consumption of alcohol for ceremonies increased the demand for cash, and one source of cash was seasonal labor on coffee plantations. However, until government reform, the Indian labor was in a highly disadvantaged situation. By the time that the Pan American highway opened up the area, much of the native land had been mortgaged for cash to carry the farmers through the agricultural year. With the highway new opportunities arose for truck farming, but these were primarily available to those who had government connections. Such individuals were able to obtain land through the foreclosure of mortgages, with the previous owner now a laborer on the truck farms. However, this and the reform of the conditions of plantation labor has increased the prosperity of the whole community. Thus, Crump asks, given the previous conditions, what could have been a more advantageous form of integration of this region to the economic center, even though there has been a growth of landlessness? The question posed by Eder on how development can occur without creating a progressive socioeconomic inequality, as individualization of the social organization grows, remains to be answered in the future as the integration of this Chiapas region to the larger economic centers expands.

Ploeg analyzes the economic position and prospects of small-scale farmers in Papua New Guinea. Landlessness is not a problem, except in a few areas. But the economic situation for these farmers is not secure or satisfactory. As a result of colonialism, they have become dependent on a mixed cash and subsistence economy. And most Papua New Guineans want to expand their cash earnings. The government also wants to increase the cash earnings of these producers to enlarge their tax base. And if the economy of the small producers does not allow the government to increase its tax income, there is the possibility that the government will favor the establishment of a class of larger scale farmers and neglect the small producer. Ploeg examines the possibility that there will arise a class of indigenous large landholders, resulting in scarcity of land for others, but he concludes that traditional methods of estate transfer will militate against that. He analyzes various other factors that might cause a scarcity of land or the inability to produce sufficient cash income, including: population increase, land suitability, the availability of labor, prices, market fluctuations, and marketability of export crops. Ploeg gives two examples where communities ended up with less income rasing commercial crops than food crops. He finds that it is unlikely that Papua New Guinean farmers will be able to achieve the level of prosperity that they would like to attain. And he argues that this represents a conception of life which is frustrating in itself as it identifies enjoyment primarily with material possession. Thus, he concludes that his argument calls for a reorientation of values away from the materialistic values shared with our own society.


We have looked at the social conditions that arise in the integration of peripheral populations with the economic and political systems of the center. And certain fundamental conclusions can be drawn.

In the capitalistic mode of integration great emphasis is put on “individualism” and freeing the individual of past constraints so that he can become an entrepreneur and an economic maximizer in the terms of the economic center. And this involves the breakdown of the individual’s sense of community and participation in it. This is a misreading of the ideas associated with individualism that arose with the advent of classical liberalism in the West. And it puts misplaced emphasis on economic rather than social goals in a form of ideology I refer to as “economic fundamentalism” (see Appell 1985d). Individualism is not just freeing the individual of traditional constraints as it is simply conceived. It also involves the imposition of other constraints to prevent the pernicious exploitation of other members of society. Those who speak for individualism seldom are aware of these constraints or the social costs that individualism produces. A whole series of support mechanisms have grown up in Western countries to mitigate the costs of individualism. Thus, when the stripped-down version of individualism is introduced in other societies without the supports and constraints, the consequences can be extreme to the social fabric and to the social and mental health of the population. It is this stripped-down version that is the source of many of the social dislocations in Third World countries. Even constrained individualism is under reconsideration as having gone too far in the West and what is needed is a return to what has been called “civic humanism.” “The concern here is less with the rights and privileges of individuals or their private needs and more with the responsibilities of enlightened citizenship or notions of community” (Rothblatt 1986:1013).

Associated with the stripped-down version of individualism is a disregard for the ecological costs for immediate economic gain. But this issue is complex and has been treated elsewhere.

A second conclusion is that when administrative systems expand from the center into the peripheries, irrespective of being capitalistic or socialistic, they do so without the usual built-in controls and feedback found in more mature administrative systems. This results in the growth of graft, dehumanized treatment of those administered, and the development of policies completely out of touch with local conditions and local needs. This is because the administration is overdetermined by the goals of the center and is undercontrolled by those who are being subjected to it. Thus, when the integration of the periphery to the core fails to occur under the terms that the representatives of the center specify or expect, the blame is put on the victims, the peripheral populations. They are accused of defective human character, personality, or intelligence on the one hand; and/or on the other, of having a “traditional,” restrictive, or retrograde culture. The elites from the center are never able to perceive the fundamental causes. These are, first, social conditions produced by the interaction of the center with the periphery creates the situation whereby the adaptive resources of the population involved are so flooded that it is impossible for it to respond effectively to the demands from the center;8 and, second, the population may not want to or choose to integrate with the center on the terms presented to them. The choice not to integrate becomes unacceptable to the elites from the center, and this is ironic since modernization is in fact learning to make intelligent choices under conditions of rapid social change, not learning to respond to the demands of others.

Moreover, it is quite clear from the materials in this volume that peripheral populations, given enough time and relief from external demands, do in fact develop their own responses to challenges presented from the center so that they can maintain control over their own economy and their own land while integrating with the center. Under these conditions of endogenous development their adaptive resources are not overwhelmed. These populations create their own social inventions to deal with these challenges. And these responses are more organically sound than an integration that is forced on them from above. However, the center is never patient. It is always authoritarian in its approach to the periphery.9 And so the development of such local level adaptations and responses are usually short-circuited by the demands for speedy transformations that are set by the policies of the center. As a result the center creates the conditions for political instability and the creation of social costs that are not perceived as the product of the center’s actions. These costs are explained away by putting the blame on the character of the population itself, as when the disadvantaged are characterized as lazy, or stupid, etc. And these costs are externalized from the development process itself primarily to the population of the periphery (see Appell 1975a).

Organic, sound development must come from the periphery, from the bottom, itself. And time, patience, and choice are the critical characteristics of such successful development. The unilateral involvement of the government to determine the futures of the periphery always produces unnecessary social disorder. Instead the involvement of the government should be that of becoming a voice for the peripheral populations. Designs for the future that come from the elites are almost never realistic to the conditions, social and environmental, of the periphery. This is because they are the product of those who are socially, intellectually, and physically removed from the conditions of the periphery and the nature of choices and risks faced by the peripheral population faces (e.g. Appell 1985d). The government should thus facilitate the thrust of the periphery, and not impose itself. In certain situations when the integration of the periphery to the center gets out of hand and the peripheral populations are becoming disadvantaged by market forces that are beyond their control, and beyond their knowledge, then the government must intervene, as it has in the rural sectors of Norway and other nations, to prevent such economic and social distortions.10

Finally, what is desperately needed as a basis for action on the part of the center is a model, a conception of what is a healthily functioning society and not a rich society, as economic surplus has never guaranteed happiness, contentedness, nor a moral society. As Madan (1983:37-38) argues: “the issue of ‘life-styles’ is (or should be) the central issue in development effort: instead we have pursued possessions and ended up with being pursued by possessions, many of which have, far from being precious turned out to be costly, not only in terms of the exhaustion of natural resources but also in terms of ecological, cultural and human destruction. It is high time we realized that ‘Every act of development involves, of necessity, an act of destruction’ (Appell 1975, p.31)...”

Thus, any such model of a healthily functioning society will have to incorporate the participation of the peripheral populations as fundamental to it. They should have the decision as to what aspects of their culture are to be lost, what they have to surrender in the integration of the periphery to the center.


1. The argument whether peasant, landless or otherwise, are the instigators of rebellion and revolution or are mobilized by outside forces as the peripheries are impacted by the economic activities of the center is well reviewed by Skocpol (1982). The point is that the landless and peasants whose livelihood is threatened by becoming landless or land impoverished form potential interest groups that can contribute to political instability.

2. The hypotheses in this section are so phrased to be testable. Populations in the center can be ranked according to the strength of their social identity and status of their social position. It is hypothesized that those who are in less secure positions will exhibit greater prejudice against the members of the peripheries.

3. Government personnel are not the only ones who have difficulty with the problem of ethnicity. Connor writes (1972:319): “Scholars associated with theories of ‘nation-building’ have tended either to ignore the question of ethnic diversity or to treat the matter of ethnic identity superficially as merely one of a number of minor impediments to effective state-integration.” Some scholars have argued that ethnicity may be a product of the growth of economic centers.

4. Thus, Hoben (1980:341) writes: ”Until recently, development planners and a majority of scholars concerned with development assumed that the agricultural practices of low-income rural people are governed by tradition, change only slowly, and are often poorly adapted to local conditions. Moreover, it was assumed that traditional rural societies were more or less static, and that their institutions must be broken down or greatly modified because they were constraints on more rational development.”

5. Thus, Johnson argues (1980:41) economists or government officials are mystified and frustrated “when confronted with the behavior of particular farmers. In fact, what is actually surprising is that anyone would think that an abstract theory, operationalized with reference to an industrial firm or similar limited frame, could prescribe behavior for farmers who have lived in an environment their entire lives, observed countless details about its soils, crops, weather, labor supply, market prices, and government intervention, and have integrated these experiences with cultural ‘rules of thumb’ into a total understanding that all our research methods in combination can hardly fathom.”

6. The discussion in this section is an abbreviation of the data and discussions presented in Appell (n.d.a).

7. Madan (1983), reviewing the literature on development, argues that Third World countries must find other models for development than that provided by Western economics and the Western experience, since this has unacceptable social costs. He calls for endogenous development and argues that it is the peripheries that hold the key to alternative, better futures. See also Appell (1975a, 1975b, 1975c).

8. Alatas (1977) nicely describes the manner in which the blame for conditions actually created by the colonizer and the commercial activities of the center are projected upon those who are the victims. He calls this the principle of misplaced responsibility: “a situation is created by colonial rule. This situation affected a change in native society, and native society is then blamed for the resultant situation” (1977:205).

9. An example of this authoritarian approach to development is found in Hyden (1980:31), a consultant to the Ford Foundation: “Development is inconceivable without a more effective subordination of the peasantry to the demands of the ruling classes.” And (1980:32): “In order to understand the political situation in Africa, then, it is important to recognize that a large group of social actors [peasants] are still to be drawn firmly into ties of dependence with the ruling classes, a precondition for effective exercise of state power.” This model of society is strangely the inverse of one of the most critical statements of American democracy that appears in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863). To turn that statement on its head we might thus read that this form of government is not of the people, not by the people, nor for the people.

10. When the periphery has some control over the political processes, it can better protect its economic future. For example, Nebraska has instituted a tough family farm law to help protect its farm land and farm families from the flow of capital out of the economic centers. “‘The real issue is (the) type of economy and society we Nebraskans want,’ argues Nebraska’s Center for Rural Affairs, a public-policy group ... ‘Do we want a corporate-farm economy where tax-subsidized investors feed cattle in lots employing Nebraskans at little more than the minimum wage?’“ (Farney 1986:64).


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