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By June Nash

As anthropologists have turned their attention to urban and industrial settings, they are expanding the concept of culture to consider the culture core as a generative base for adapting to, and transforming, reality rather than as a storehouse of beliefs, acts, and understandings inherited and transmitted from one generation to the next. In the analysis of Third World countries undergoing rapid change, traditional customs and social structures provide the basis for resistance to dependency relations fostered in an industrial wage system. Bolivian tin miners are an extreme case of a work force linked to the international market and conscious of their role as producers in the global exchange system at the same time that they identify with aboriginal traditions. It is the thesis of this paper that strong identification with their own cultural roots, reinforced by community solidarity, helps them to overcome the alienation characteristic of an industrial working class. Far from being opposed to militant class consciousness, this enables the tin miners to overcome the opposition of military regimes and coopted populist movements.


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