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life. Puerto Rican workers approach the changes much more willingly and optimistically, and with a much smaller sense of danger to their way of life, than would be true under less democratic leadership and social organization.

It is quite possible for the majority of Puerto Ricans to develop new commitments gradually and apparently of their own will, and thus to shift their sensibilities and their orientations only by barely perceptible degrees at any point in the process. Most of the striving that one observes there is directed at improvement within the social system, rather than by change of the system. And this internal type of change is possible primarily because the majority of the workers, both urban and rural, continue to feel assured that they can express their character and realize their traditional values even if in slightly new ways. Of course, it is only the immediate, small, and hence relatively less consequential changes with which the individual workers must deal and to which they must adjust.

Typically we find that among Puerto Rican peasants who have entered upon the new ways of life there is virtually no sense of any danger to their conceptions of themselves as worthy individuals. This confidence is based in part on the shared concept of dignidad, and in part on the fact that the division of labor is not yet sufficiently differentiated to permit the development of multifarious invidious distinctions. These people are responsive and assured when officials tell them that they are the backbone of the nation. And there is sufficiently frequent confirmation, of a more than token nature, of this official estimate that the workers are not required to put their faith only in slogans.

These occurrences in Puerto Rico suggest that rapid change is possible, and that rapid modernization of a traditional society may give rise to little sense of threat to a way of life. For this, however, there must be mechanisms by which the members of the society can, in its estimation, continue to fulfill the major requirements of existing role images, at the same time that they are being revised by barely perceptible degrees to meet the demands of the emergent modern society. However successful other techniques of modernization may prove to be, there is a high probability of success for programs of modernization that contain the central feature that all portions of the population involved shall be helped to perceive the desired changes as rewarding in the ways in which they desire to be rewarded and are accustomed to being rewarded.




William H. Knowles*


The labor unrest that followed World War II in the developing areas of the world cannot be described as industrial conflict because there is little industry in these areas; preindustrial unrest is a more appropriate term. Although the dislocations caused by even small amounts of industrialization can be great, particularly in cultures not receptive to it, the revolutionary foment in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa cannot be attributed to industrialization per se. The two central facts of the underdeveloped areas are grinding poverty, even by non-Western standards, and the predominance of agriculture. The bulk of the work force in these areas is made up of tenant farmers; few wage earners work in industry. The picture, provided by some social anthropologists, of primitive or peasant societies as integrated and unchanging with a perfect balance of social and natural forces is overdrawn.1

Labor Unrest in Preindustrial Societies

There is labor unrest in preindustrial societies because they are in a state of disintegration or transition. The decline and transition of indigenous cultures began with the arrival of the first explorer, missionary, or trader, and has been going on for some 300 years with increasing exposure to Western culture. The climax of this process was reached after World War II. Whether the labor force of a preindustrial society is made up of hunting or pastoral tribesmen, serfs or peons, landowning peasants or wage earners on large plantations, labor unrest has arisen because of some combination of the following factors or groups of factors:

* I am indebted to Van Dusen Kennedy and Anthony Koo for their careful reading and helpful criticisms of this paper.

1 E. Daya, "Freedom of Association and Industrial Relations in Asian Countries, Part I," International Labour Review, 71:365 (April 1955); Wilbert E. Moore, Industrialization and Labor (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1951), p. 70.

1. Overpopulation, low productivity in agriculture, underemployment, and unemployment. Characteristic of almost all developing areas is a "population explosion," which has been in the making for several generations.2 Overpopulation is not yet a problem in Latin America and some areas of the Middle East and Africa, but will cause difficulties there, too, if present rates of population increase continue. Public health measures, including malaria control in recent years, are lowcost investments which have been readily accepted by primitive societies and which have phenomenally reduced death rates. Population pressure sets off a chain of events which eventually undermine the way of life of the indigenous society. Present methods of agriculture are sometimes the result of over a century of adaptation of a fixed amount of land to the needs of a growing population, with diminishing returns.3 In some areas production per acre is actually falling. Attempts to support a growing population by traditional agricultural methods have led to soil depletion, erosion, overgrazing, and water scarcity. In peasant societies overpopulation has led to division of the land into uneconomic units. Abuse of the land leads to underemployment, poverty, debt, insecure land tenure, absentee control, and a body of landless agricultural laborers. Hunger for land gives rise to unjustified economic grievances against large commercial estates, which are generally units of optimum size for efficient production.

In most developing areas population pressure is excessive only in relation to traditional economic organization; the areas would not be overpopulated if the labor surplus could be shifted from agriculture to

2 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The Economic Development of Nigeria (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1955), pp. 3–5 [all the reports in this series were published by the Press; in subsequent citations, only the date of publication is given], The Economic Development of Syria (1955), p. 3, and The Economic Development of Turkey (1951), p. 16; National Planning Association, Special Policy Committee on Technical Cooperation, Technical Cooperation in Latin America (Washington, D. C., June 1956), p. 4.

3 Ernest L. Fogg, "Labor Organization in Thailand,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 6:243 (April 1953); Walter R. Goldschmidt, "The Interrelations Between Cultural Factors and the Acquisition of New Technical Skills," in Bert F. Hoselitz, ed., The Progress of Underdeveloped Areas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952), pp. 153; International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The Economic Development of Ceylon (1953), pp. 13, 56, and The Economic Development of Nigeria, pp. 82–89; W. S. Mare, African Trade Unions (London: Longmans Green and Co., 1949), p. 111; Moore, op. cit., p. 51; Oscar A. Ornati, Jobs and Workers in India (Ithaca: Cornell University, Institute of International Industrial and Labor Relations, 1955), pp. 19, 24, 52.

industry with more efficient use of known mineral resources. Productivity of agriculture would rise in some areas, even with present primitive methods, if more people moved from the land. In other areas the food supply would be adequate if modern agricultural techniques were used, but then even more people would have to leave the land.

Endemic unemployment and underemployment are also characteristic of the developing areas. The resulting chaotic labor markets are not due to the refusal of workers to leave the land, for people are being driven from it, but to an unsettled rural proletariat that has no place to go. It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that industrial development can take place without being accompanied by an agricultural revolution. Balanced economic development rather than agricultural versus industrial development is the issue.

2. Malnutrition and disease. While public health measures can reduce infant mortality, population growth without an increase in food supply leads to malnutrition, which in turn increases susceptibility to disease. Treatment of some diseases is expensive, and a luxury that a poor economy cannot afford. In underdeveloped areas many people suffer from parasitic worms of the intestines and blood, malaria, incipient yaws, gonorrhea, syphilis, and vitamin deficiencies. Much of the indolence, apathy, inefficiency, and high rates of absenteeism and turnover, which are sometimes attributed to the culture patterns of developing areas, are in fact the consequence of malnutrition and disease. Lack of full industrial commitment is traceable, in part, to physical incapacity rather than cultural barriers.

3. Urban slums. Population pressure drives people from the land, the tribe, the peasant village, and the plantation. The developing areas of the world are characterized by the rapid growth of cities-a growth entirely disproportionate to their economic growth and opportunities for wage employment. Although urban growth may be attributed in part to expansion of commerce, communications, and government services, cities in the underdeveloped areas tend to be gigantic slums of underemployed and unemployed. Poverty, delinquency, labor exploitation, lack of sanitation, ill health, family disorganization, and a high ratio of males to females are all characteristics of rapid urbanization

4 Conrad Bekker, "The Point Four Program of the United States" in Hoselitz, op. cit., p. 237; Norman S. Buchanan and Howard S. Ellis, Approaches to Economic Development (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1955), p. 44; International Bank, The Economic Development of Iraq (1952), p. 1; Ornati, loc. cit.; U. S. Department of Labor, Summary of the Labor Situation in Taiwan (November 1956), pp. 1, 4.

without proper social planning and are not inherent in the industrialization process.

The displaced agricultural workers are "in the city but not of the city." Urban growth has undermined traditional religions, kinship patterns, symbols of authority, and value systems. Labor unrest is not the result of protest against industrialization, but rather of the absence of something to replace the traditional way of life.

4. Social, recreational, educational, and other deficiencies in communities. Underdeveloped areas are characterized by appalling deficiencies in educational, medical, recreational, transport, water supply, and refuse disposal facilities. Growing populations tax the limited existing facilities, and the economic structure cannot finance necessary expansion. In spite of the overcrowded city slums, the flight from rural villages continues. Although the casual visitor is shocked by the packing-crate and tin-can housing in the towns, building construction there is superior to that in rural areas. While the people may be committed to their traditional way of life in most respects, they have been exposed to nontraditional ideas long enough to expect and demand community amenities that are not forthcoming. Thus the governments of the developing areas are confronted with a newly awakened, widespread, and insistent demand for education, medical care, clean drinking water, and roads. In addition, a growing cause of labor unrest and high labor turnover is the lack of consumers' goods due to the backwardness of merchandizing methods.5

5. Inadequate credit systems, usury, and growing debt. Preindustrial societies are generally noted for primitive credit systems and usurious interest rates, which impede economic expansion and give a large portion of the return on agriculture to the moneylender. Population pressure and fixed quantities of land make nearly everyone a marginal producer. One crop failure places a family at the mercy of the moneylender. The crude system of credit which may have been adequate in the past is not satisfactory for people with rising aspirations who are frustrated by declining agricultural productivity. Labor unrest in developing areas is often the result of a growing burden of personal debt from which there is no escape.

5 G. Balandier, "The Problems of the African Worker in the Gaboon and the Congo," International Social Science Bulletin, 6:456 (1954); International Bank, The Economic Development of Jamaica (1952), p. 189; Mare, op. cit., p. 111; United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Processes and Problems of Industrialization in Underdeveloped Countries (New York, 1955), p. 40.

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