Aquitaine - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Owing to the importance of the wine trade, capitalist agriculture coexisted with subsistence production throughout most of the nineteenth century. Today, virtually all segments of French agriculture have been thoroughly integrated into capitalist markets and social relations. The most important commercial activity continues to be wine making, which divides the southwest into areas of quality and ordinary production. Most areas of the southwest are regions of polyculture where the cultivation of cereals, fruits, vegetables, truffles, and tobacco and the raising of livestock are among the most Important activities. There is also some light industry. Many rural households earn a living through a combination of agricultural production and nonagricultural pursuits such as work in a local factory or domestic labor. The smallest farms are made viable through the numerous agricultural cooperatives that are prevalent in the southwest.

Industrial Arts. The southwest is home to many artists and to those who orient their production to the tourist trade.

Trade. The southwest has since the early Middle Ages been tied into international markets. Today, it is France's membership in the European Community (EC) that is most important for the Aquitaine. Membership in the EC has both highlighted aspects of development in the southwest and created problems with neighboring states, for example the importation of inexpensive Spanish and Italian wines. Membership in the EC has also revitalized regional consciousness and made it more difficult for the French government to intervene, as prices and guidelines for the circulation of agricultural goods and workers are often set at the international level.

Division of Labor. While a division of labor based on Gender has long existed in the countryside, the modernization of agriculture has established an almost exclusively domestic role for women. Although urban areas avowedly offer more opportunities for women, numerous inequalities in pay and opportunities for advancement reflect the sexual division of labor. The division of labor in manufacture and service industries is specialized and hierarchical.

Land Tenure. Although France is known for its preservation of the small family tenure, the average is actually larger than many other countries in the EC. The southwest has witnessed a consolidation of tenures as a result both of government planning and of the failure of small family farms. Nevertheless, it is still quite common to find small- and medium-sized farms whose tenures are divided into small units spread over a wide area. Private property is jealously guarded even by those farmers who are members of cooperatives.


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