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Re: Mississippi Masala & Self-Employment

Posted by Carole on October 24, 2001 at 21:18:46:

In Reply to: Re: Mississippi Masala & Self-Employment posted by Julie Hall on October 24, 2001 at 21:05:52:

I think it depends on the larger society. If you grow up with self-employment but inside a capitalist society then you might still be taught capitalist ways. You go to school and everybody talks about getting a job or the teacher encourages you to do that. You have friends who just want to get a job but not to work for themselves and this will influence you. You watch television and it shows people getting jobs. In other words, you're surrounded by the dominant system, so even if you live in a household where self-employment is the way of life I think you might still be taught to think like someone who grew up with capitalism. I think it would be more likely that you would be self-employed if that was the norm for the whole society, not just for your family.

: Do you think it very unlikely that an individual raised on an independent farm, where it is considered self-employment, would ever grow up to work in a capitalist setting as a wage laboror? It is described how the setting that one grew up in has a strong influence on the type of work one will engage in in the future. I feel like it's more likely that someone will move from capitalism to self-employment instead of from self-employment to capitalism, but either way I wonder how likely it is that an individual would change, or even be able to change in order to work in a different class process.

: : As some of the messages on this board indicate, self-employment within a capitalist society is not an easy choice. We are all taught to conform to particular norms of behavior at an early age, including how to participate in the economic life of society. In a capitalist society, we are more likely to be trained to play roles as wage laborers or managers than to be taught to be self-employed. In addition, the relationships we encounter in a capitalist society will tend to push us in the direction of participating in the wage labor relationship, as wage laborers, managers, or, in those rare cases, appropriators. The political, cultural, and economic relationships that are "normal" in such a society will tend to support the choice to participate in the wage labor relationship, not to engage in self-employment. However, in a society where self-employment predominates the reverse will be true. People would be trained to be self-employed and to accept self-employment as normal. This training occurs early in life and usually includes direct experience at the sorts of activities necessary to being successfully self-employed. For example, children who grow up on an independent farm are likely to participate in farming activities and to find such activities relatively easy to do by the time they reach an age to be self-employed farmers. We might want to think about all the various ways we are enculturated to participate in certain types of economic relationships and not in others. It is not a case of "motivation" or "drive" to be self-employed, any more than it is a case of "motivation" or "drive" to get out of bed in the morning or to engage in wage laboring or management of wage laborers. It is a matter of enculturation and the creation of normality.

: : When you view the film _Mississippi Masala_ think about the way the societies (social formations) depicted in the film (Uganda, Mississippi) shape the possibilities for self-employment, in particular for the primary characters who engage, at one time or another, in such self-employment. What is the role of racism in overdetermining their ability to be self-employed? What about the role of political processes? Cultural processes other than racism? Other economic processes? See how many self-employed producers you can identify in the film and ask how they are similar or differ in their relationship to the community(ies) depicted.



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