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Postindustrial Economies

Hunting and gathering. horticultural and pastoral.  and agrarian societies are all postindustrial economic structures. Most workers in these societies engage in primary sector production-the extraction of rue materials and natural resources from the environment. These materials and resources are typically consumed or used without much processing. For example. portions of contemporary sub-Saharan Africa have a relatively high rate of exports in primary commodities. and foreign direct investment is concentrated in mineral extraction. Consequently, most of sub-
Saharan Africa is highly dependent t on primary sector production, which, in turn, is highly vulnerable to the whims of the primary commodity markets (United Nations Development Programmer. 2003). In recent  ears. many people have lost economic ground in sub- Saharan Africa, where per· capita incomes are lower than they were in 1970 (United Nations Development Programmer, 2003). Throughout history. the production units in hunting and gathering societies have been smaller goods arc: produced by family members. The division of labor is by age and gender (Hudson and Sullivan 2008). The potential for producing surplus goods increases as people learn to domesticate animals and  grow their own food. In horticultural and pastoral societies.the economy becomes distinct from family life. The distribution process becomes more complex. with the accumulation of a surplus such that some people can engage in activities other than food production.
In agrarian societies. production is primarily related to producing food. However. workers have a greater variety of specialized tasks. such as warlord or priest; for
example. warriors are necessary y to protect the surplus goods from plunder by outsiders (Hodson and Sullivan. 2008). Once a surplus is accumulated. more people
can also engage in trade. Initially  the surplus goods are distributed through a system of barter-the direct exchange of goods or services considered of equal value by the traders. However. bartering is limited as a method of distribution; equivalencies are difficult to determine (how many fish equal one rabbit?) because
there is no way to assign a set value to the items being traded. As a result. money. a medium of exchange with a relatively fixed value, came into use in order to aid the distribution of goods and services in society .

Whet WIKIS the u.s. economy like in the postindustrial era? As previous chapters have stated, the curricularral revolution brought about dramatic flanges in the nature of work, including the incasing division  between work and home. In the postindustrialeconomy of the colonial period (from the 16005 to the early 17oos), white men earned, a livelihood through agricultural work or as small-business owners who ran establishments such as inns. taverns. and shops.  During this period, white women worked primarilyin their homes, doing such tasks as cooking. cleaniig, and child care. Some also developed cottag« industries- producing goods in tl – – homes that could  be sold to non family members. However. a number of
white women also work  outside their households as midwifes. physicians, nurses. teachers, innkeepers, and shopkeepers (Hesse-Biber and Carter, 2000). By contrast. the experiences of people of color were qui~ different in preindustrial America. ~ the sociologists Sharlene Hesse-Biber and Gregg Lee Carter. (2000) explain. the institution orslavery, which came about largely as a result of the demand for cheap agricultural labor. was a major force in the exploitation of many people 0 color. but it was particularly the women of color who suffered n double burden of oppression In the form of both sexism and racism. For example. African American women were exploited as workers. as o breeders of slaves. and sometimes as sex objects for white men (Hesse-Biber and Carter, 2000). By contrast. Native American women in some agricultural communities held greater power because they were able to maintain control over land. tools. and surplus food (Hesse-Biber and  Carter, 2000).. Do postindustrial forms of work still exist in contemporary high-income nations? In short. yes. Even in high-income nations such as the United States,  ntire families work in the agricultural sector of the economy, performing tasks such as picking ripened cherries. Here is one journalist’s descriptlon of rhome life” among some seasonal cherry pickers in the state of Washington:

At the height of cherry-picking season. 12 men were making a patch of woods … into a home. Plastic grocery bags hung from nails in the Ponderosa pine bark: the pantry. A shard of mirror was wedged into the trunk of another pine: the bathroom. The kitchen was a Sunbeam propane grill. the bushes served as toilets. and six cheap tents formed the bedroom  Cherry picking requires special timing and skills; the fruit must be picked just as soon as it is ripe. and workers must be careful not to separate the stems from the fruit or damage the branches where next year’s buds
will form …. Working from 4 A.M. until noon. when heat can damage the fruit. pickers  make $4 for filling a 4O-pound box. or up to $80 a day. Many travel for weeks at a time following the ripening from Californiato Oregon. then from Washington to Montana. (Kelley. 1999: All)  s this example shows. some parL~ of the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy have not been changed by industrialization or post industrialization. The cherry pickers described above are employed in the same region as many high-tech information employees who work for Microsoft or other computer manufacturers or software designers.

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