Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




David R. Counts




In this thesis, I examine worker-peasant social and cultural patterns in Santiago de Carreira, a rural parish located in the region of Galicia in northwestern Spain Based on historical and ethnographic research conducted from September 1990 to August 1991, this study provides an analysis of multioccupationality in the context of a mixed economy in this community over the course of the twentieth century. Following Douglas Holmes (1983, 1989), among others, I argue that worker-peasantries are not necessarily transitional and often represent a viable alternative to either commercial farming or full proletarianization.

Member of household in the parish of Carreira remain committed to subsistence agricultural production, despite the fact that many of them have participated in various forms of wage labour locally and in migrant destinations. Four broad worker-peasant strategies are discussed in the thesis: the reproduction of stem-family household pattern; the elaboration of a worker-peasant work ethic; the valorization of non-wage labour; and the maintenance of inter-household exchange relationships. These strategies mediate the effects of capitalist penetration. In the face of few opportunities for secure wage employment, the Carreirense, like other European worker-peasants, have kept their land in production. The three-generation stem-family household system, when combined with multiple forms of livelihood, allows for the flexible movement of household members of both genders in and out of the wage market.

I also focus extensively on the symbols, metaphors, and meanings that the Carreirense attach to work activities and exchange relationships. This local-level perspective is communicated with the verbatim accounts of work, like stories of labour, and social memories of significant events in the past. In this thesis, I emphasize that these Spanish villagers continuously craft their own lives in the face of difficult structural circumstances and strong pressures towards economic globalization and cultural homogenization.

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