Andalusians - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Most of Andalusia traditionally has been devoted to estate-based, extensive cultivation of cereals, with olives and sunflowers constituting additional important crops. Cereal cropping is carried out in conjunction with sheepherding, although the flocks have declined dramatically over the last several decades and are now found only on the largest of the region's estates. Chickens and pigs are raised on a small scale. The vast majority of economic activity in Andalusia is agriculturally related, and this situation has become more and more exacerbated in recent years as local artisans faced competition from goods brought in from beyond the local community. On the great farms, most of the agricultural produce is destined for market, and the available work consists largely of unskilled, repetitive tasks such as sowing and harvesting. Local economies never have been capable of providing full employment, and many young men (fewer women) leave to seek work in the cities or elsewhere.

Industrial Arts. Large-scale industry is uncommon in the region, but local milling and processing of olive oil, wine making, and other such enterprises are still common. Buildings are, for the most part, constructed of local materials—including wood-frame and, more commonly, mud-walled (stucco) structures—although the older estates are often made of stone.

Trade. Nearly all of Andalusia's agricultural product is destined for market, either sold directly to processors in raw state or processed locally and sold to urban markets in final form (e.g., olive oil and wine). Little is left of the great mineral trade upon which the earliest economy of the region was based. Locally there are still weekly markets for agricultural produce and livestock, as well as for some locally produced crafts.

Division of Labor. The casa, or coresident kinship group, is the basic economic production unit, and each member is expected to contribute labor toward securing the livelihood of the whole. There is a strong sexual division of labor organizing the economic roles of household members, but the nature of such gender-specific roles varies according to the class to which a household belongs. Among landed families, where the combination of current income and inherited wealth reduces the need for supplemental income, management of the household economy falls entirely to the male head of Household, while his wife concerns herself with the administration of the household and does not usually work outside of the home. In the households of agricultural laborers, the administration of the family budget falls to the wife, who may also work in the fields alongside her sons and husband. Still, regardless of the economic class to which the family belongs, there is a strong sense that home-management tasks (housekeeping, child rearing, and the like) are the exclusive Province of women, an assumption that it is best for women to remain, as far as possible, in the domestic sphere, and a strong cultural proscription for men to participate in any Domestic tasks whatsoever.

Land Tenure. Land tenure takes one of three forms. Direct ownership is the preferred and the most common form. Leaseholds, traditionally for six years although variations in terms of the lease are not infrequent, are secured for payments in cash or kind (although today it is rare for agreements to be based upon the latter). Rents have soared in recent decades, and the lessor must often pay a substantial annual rent without certainty of the future profits at the harvest. Together, these factors have contributed to the decline in popularity of this form of land tenure. Sharecropping—in which an individual shares in the profits of the farm in return for the contribution of his labor in producing the crop—was once far more common than it is today, partly because of the mechanization of many farming tasks, which has reduced the need for outside labor. When sharecropping does occur, the proceeds of the sale of farm products are generally split, 50-50, between the landowner and the sharecropper.

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