Page images
PDF
EPUB

Now even ice cream is imported from England at a price below that at which the local factory can compete. Finally, there are successful service industries and public utilities: engineering workshops, electricity generation, and the like.

Varied though these industries are they have two things in common: nearly all are small concerns and they tend to be of a kind that uses only a small proportion of semiskilled labor peculiar to the particular industry. To clarify the nature of such labor, work can be classified crudely as follows: (1) There is work that requires no particular skill; efficiency in such work is measured by experience and such general industrial attributes as punctuality and regularity. Work of this kind is available in many firms and industries, and a man can easily move from job to job. (2) There is skilled work in the sense of a craft or trade, e.g., the work of carpenters, plumbers, mechanics. In such work efficiency depends primarily on some years of training, in addition to the attributes pertaining to unskilled work. Skilled work is also widely available, and there is therefore no barrier to mobility between firms and industries. (3) In our classification the mobility of the skilled worker largely distinguishes him from the semiskilled. The sense in which we use this term is not qualitative; we do not distinguish, as it were, between semiskilled and skilled carpenters. By semiskilled work we mean work that requires training but that finds application in only one or a few firms and certainly not in more than one industry. A railway signalman was the example we gave earlier.

We are now in a position to see why certain types of industry have proved viable in Uganda despite what appears to be a formidable obstacle, namely, the lack of stability of the labor force. Unskilled labor, although inefficient, is not so much less efficient than in a fully stabilized labor force, and the inefficiency is compensated by low wages and savings in other costs. Skilled workers are mostly Baganda and, as we have seen, they are far more stable in the labor force than most immigrants. Their high wages contribute something toward their stability. Industries that use primarily skilled and unskilled labor are therefore not affected to any marked degree by the inexperience or instability of the labor force, provided they take the known features of the labor force into account.

The real problem arises in industries that have to employ large numbers of semiskilled workers. Because the cost of training them is borne wholly by the employers, a rapid labor turnover among trained semiskilled workers is very costly. Employers must pay attractive wages

to the potentially stable element in the labor force, and this makes the average cost of labor high. Industries of this kind are therefore the least viable in Uganda unless they are protected from foreign competition, particularly from the competition of such densely populated countries as India and Japan, where the supply price of labor is low. Two factories in Uganda employ semiskilled workers in large numbers: a textile mill and a cigarette factory. The textile mill faces heavy competition from India, and high labor costs have caused a loss in the first year of operation of a sum equivalent to one tenth of the capital invested in the firm. The commercial operators have recently decided to liquidate their interest. The cigarette factory pays high wages to its semiskilled workers and therefore has a very low turnover; it can afford to pay such wages because it is largely protected from foreign competition and because it enjoys particular advantages in the market for its raw material. However, the prospects in Uganda do not seem bright for industries that employ large numbers of semiskilled workers trained only for jobs in these industries and therefore sensitive to high mobility.

What, then, are the prospects for the development in Uganda of a more stable urban population with a distinct culture and social system of its own? Such a development does not seem likely in the near future. Unlike England in the eighteenth century, the rural population from which the towns draw workers are not agricultural wage laborers, but peasant farmers with rights of one kind or another in the land. The evidence seems to us to indicate that they will include town labor in the pattern of their lives up to the point where further commitment would involve breaking the tie with the land; further they will not go. It is both economically more rational and socially more rewarding for them to stop at this point. To be sure, the point varies for the various tribes; Luo and Baganda maximize their satisfactions with longer periods in town than do others. The position of these two peoples, however, is fundamentally the same in terms of continued commitment to rural, tribal life. We see no reason for this to change. The various schemes of agricultural development under way in parts of East Africa quite possibly will tip the scales further in the rural, tribal direction.

Another difference between eighteenth century England and Uganda today is worth mentioning. However much the English were divided regionally and by social classes, they were fundamentally one people culturally and linguistically. The African in Uganda who goes to town must offer his labor to an Indian or European with whom he has the

greatest difficulty in forming a cultural rapprochement. Sheer communication is minimal; neither Baganda nor Luo, for example, speak the broken Kiswahili which is the local lingua franca with any fluency. Neither, for that matter, do many of the European and Indian employers. Still fewer Africans speak English. The linguistic problem will pass as education becomes more widespread; but the towns, particularly their commercial and industrial aspects, will no doubt continue for some time to be dominated by Indians and Europeans. This situation will inhibit the formation of an African urban social system.

The importance of this factor-the cultural attractiveness of town life is suggested by Weber's study of farm workers in eastern Germany in the late nineteenth century. In explaining the tendency of German workers to leave the Junkers' estates in favor of the cities to the west, Weber stressed the desire to be free of the semifeudal personal dependence on the landowner. Even though life on the estate was more profitable in purely economic terms, urban industrial life was freer and hence more attractive. 19 For Uganda Africans, however, the atmosphere of alien domination in the towns is a negative factor, adding to the economic inducement to maintain rural ties.

19 Max Weber, Die Verhaeltnisse der Landarbeiter im ostelbischen Deutschland (1892), cited by Reinhard Bendix in his Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1960), Chapter 2.

14 CHANGING CRAFT TRADITIONS

IN INDIA

Milton Singer •

Recent discussions of economic development have shown a commendable broadening of horizons in the attention given to social, cultural, and psychological factors. In some analyses, however, the assertions about the role of these factors have assumed a definiteness that seems premature in the present state of our knowledge. This is particularly true of analyses that stress the inconsistencies between the values and traditions of preindustrial societies and the requirements of industrial societies. Such analyses are usually based on certain assumptions about traditional societies, on case studies where resistance to industrialization has been found, and on extrapolations of the sequence of industrial development observed in England, the United States, and the other industrially advanced countries of the West. The anthropologists' "culture pattern" theory has also begun to appear in these analyses.

THE CLASH OF "INDUSTRIALISM" AND "TRADITIONALISM”

Theory of Uniform Sequence

The general line of argument in these analyses of economic development may be schematized by the following propositions:

1. There is a linear sequence of industrial development that is essentially the same wherever it occurs. The complete version of this sequence is provided by the history of industrialization in England.

2. This sequence is started, maintained, and accelerated by a specific complex of values and motives necessary for a functionally integrated industrial society and its associated "culture pattern."

3. Most of the newly developing countries are deficient in the required values and motives in this complex and are characterized by preindustrial and nonindustrial value patterns, which are inconsistent with it.

⚫ I am indebted to Isabel Caro for research assistance in the preparation of this paper, which was written during my tenure of a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1957-58.

4. If the newly developing countries are to follow the sequence of industrial development, they will need to adopt the industrial value complex and get rid of their traditional value patterns.

This last proposition has direct implications for decisions on policy concerning economic development, and if valid, confronts the policy makers of these countries with a difficult choice between two courses. These implications have been drawn explicitly by McClelland:

Western and Eastern intellectuals both frequently observe that they sincerely hope the East can develop economically without losing the many valuable features of its existing way of life and institutions, without becoming "materialistic" like the West. To a certain extent such sentiments, while admirable in many ways, are simply incompatible with the psychological requirements for a modern society. For instance, peacefulness and calm acceptance of life as it occurs are virtues the East might well wish to maintain and the West to acquire, but it is surely nonsense to think one can maintain those values and at the same time develop a nation of hustling entrepreneurs whose vigorous efforts are absolutely essential to economic advance. Underdeveloped countries must develop a strenuous, more achievement-oriented attitude toward life whether they like it or not, if they want economic development.1

If the theory summarized in these propositions is true, the development policies of some countries, such as India, seem self-defeating. The aim of these policies—to adapt industrial growth to preindustrial traditions—is in this view misguided, since it tries to mix the unmixable and puts off the basic decision to industrialize or not to industrialize. If the theory is not true, circumspect policies of compromise may be more effective than all-or-none programs of industrialization, and the all-ornone attitude may itself create unnecessary ideological barriers to industrialization programs by making them appear more of a threat to basic values than they in fact are.

Some Difficulties with the Theory

Present knowledge of comparative economic development is not sufficient to permit a definitive refutation or confirmation of this theory. The literature on the subject is meager and scattered and needs systematization and appraisal. The conference for which this paper was

1 David C. McClelland, "Community Development and the Nature of Human Motivation: Some Implications of Recent Research," unpublished paper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for International Studies, 1957. By permission.

« PreviousContinue »