Labour Demands and the Household

R.J Fisher


Coming   to grips with the organisation of labour is crucial to understanding the   workings of any agrarian system. In this chapter I wish to examine the   organisation of labour in Hinganiya paying particular attention to the ways   it is related to reducing the risks of drought. Maclachlan (1983) has   suggested that one response to population growth in a high famine-risk   environment is agricultural intensification and argues that one way to   intensify labour inputs is through the organisation of the household to   maximise the availability of male labour. This chapter will explore the   situation in Hinganiya to see whether a similar argument applies there. In   fact, I will argue that analysis of labour demand does not support an   argument for intensification based on large households and maximising male   membership. On the contrary, large hquseholds, while being of value during   peak labour periods, present a problem for subsistence for the rest of the   year, and throughout bad years._ Large households, where they exist, have   other functions, particularly in terms of delaying partition of land. 

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