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The Wages of Modernization: A Review of the Literature on Temporary Labor Arrangements

in Brazilian Agriculture
Author(s): William S. Saint
Source: Latin American Research Review, Vol. 16, No. 3 (1981), pp. 91-110
Published by: The Latin American Studies Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2502917 .
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THE WAGES

OF MODERNIZATION:

A Review of the Literatureon Temporary
Labor Arrangementsin BrazilianAgriculture*

William
S. Saint

TheFordFoundation

INTRODUCTION

AND BACKGROUND

In two decades, Brazil has shed the image of a stagnantagrarian state
and emerged as one of the world's largest agriculturalexporters.The
price of this metamorphosishas come high: land, resource, and capital
concentration;massive rural-urban migration; shortfallsin domestic
food supply; and ecological deteriorationalong the expanding agriculin the structureof agriculturalproturalfrontier.Major transformations
duction have accompanied these changes, and they have led to new
patternsin the organization of agriculturalwork and associated social
relationsin production. Perhaps the most visible social product of agricultural modernization has been the temporarywage laborer, known
commonlyin Brazil as the boiafria.1
In recent years the boia friaphenomenon has received considerable attentionfromBrazilian social scientistsconcerned with understanding rural development processes. The followingdiscussion traces
the development of conceptual thinkingand empirical investigation
concerningtemporarywage labor in Brazilian agricultureand reviews
existingliteratureon the subject, much of which is poorly disseminated
outside Brazil.
One of the firststudies of boias frias(Bombo and Brunelli1966)
described this rural worker as follows: "a person of periodic employment and informalwork relations, who lives outside of the farm on
which he works, usually in the urban peripheryof nearby towns or
cities." Later definitions,benefittingfromgreaterunderstandingof this
*An earlierversion of this paper was presented at the annual meetingof the Rural Sociological Society,Burlington,Vermont,August 1979, and was published in Portuguese as
"Mao de Obra Volante na AgriculturaBrasileira"(Pesquisae Planejamento
Econ6mico10, no.
2 [Aug. 1980]: 503-26).The author wishes to express his appreciation to Jose Francisco
Graziano da Silva and Michael Redcliftfortheirhelpfulsuggestions. Opinions expressed
are entirelythe author's, and do not reflectthe viewpointsof the institutionwithwhich he
is associated.

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It remains the most comprehensive single referenceon the subject. who is paid on a piecework. qualified or expanded this characterization(e. therebyremovingthem fromon-farmproductiveactivityand contributing to the growingmarginalpopulation in urban areas.task-completed or dailybasis. Wilkinson 1963).organizationof the productionsystemalso changed. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .LatinAmerican Research Review phenomenon. p. Vassimon 1969.g.usuallybytruck.g.2 Because of the large numberof ex-ruralunemployed and the cyclicalhigh demands for labor. The definitionused here will be the synthesisofferedby Gomes da Silva (1975): . Gonzales and Bastos 1975).40 on Wed. p. The Boia Fria: Accumulationand Misery (1975). This substitutionprocess occurred over a forty-yearperiod between 1930 and 1970.rural residents were forcedto seek employmentin nearby cities and towns. This characteristic.. modern inputs. .which requiresmuch greatertimeliness of executionthan the traditionalcoffeegathering. which representsthe firstmajor attemptat combininghistoricaland field investigation of rural day laborers.a salariedruralworkerresidingoutsidetheagricultural property.also noted in similarstudies in othercountries(e. Focusing primarilyon the impoverished Alta Sorocabana region of Sao Paulo. Agriculturalmodernizationprocesses in Brazil have perhaps had theirmost profoundimpact in the state of Sao Paulo. has led some researchers to label this social group as "rurban" (Gonzales and Bastos 1975. 12) and note the "de-ruralization"of the agriculturallabor force(Brant1979.83.(P. ..As a result of this transition. and much of the existing research on boias frias is specific to that state. As the configurationof coffeeplantations with theirassociated subsistence tenant-farmerlabor force was substituted by the relativelyless labor-intensivesystemsof cattleand cotton.who may or may not be so as to receivelaborlegislation and socialsecurity properly registered benefits. 33). generally in the urbanperipheryof nearbytownsor cities.8) A principal distinguishingfeatureof the boias friasis that they are frequentlyagriculturalworkers with urban residence. and temporarywage labor. This research interestwas stimulated in part by Maria Conceiqao D'Incao e Mello's landmark study. D'Incao e Mello describes the historicaltransitionfroman agriculturalproduction systembased largelyon coffeeto one in which cattleraisingand commercialcottoncultivationpredominate.9.and who generally travelssomedistanceeach dayto hisplaceofwork. Patron-clientrelationsbetween landowners and residenttenantfarmers (called colonos)were graduallyreplaced by an increasinglycapitalistagriculturebased on mechanization. Dotson and Dotson 1978. rural landowners found it economically more advantageous to transportday laborers fromthe towns to the farmsthan to maintaina 92 This content downloaded from 168. Temporarylabor was especially employed duringperiods of peak labor demand at cottonharvest.

During the agriculturalyear. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and various in-kindpayments (e.83.and Bastos 1977.5 While data on children's contributionsto agriculturalproduction are sketchyat best. Barros and Urban 1977. of course.9. When labor demand peaks and wages rise.4 The demand for temporarywage labor in agricultureis highly seasonal. Bellotto.).40 on Wed.3 As the number of boias friasincreased.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE resident on-farmwork force with its corresponding costs of required labor legislationbenefits. The specificcauses of the ruralsocial change processes thathave led to the emergence of the temporaryday laborerhave been variously suggested to include capitalistpenetrationof agriculture. p. The assumption here is that the large bulk of urban residentswho are economicallyactive in agriculturework as boias frias. the composition of the ruralwork forcechanged (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976. Indeed.foodstuffs. In consequence.g. 6). which are reproduced in table 1.oftenreceiving less than the minimumwage.changingagriculturalland-use patterns. These occurrences are obviously not unrelated and will be discussed more extensivelybelow. etc.This proportionvaries considerablyby region. There are currentlyan estimated six million boias friasin Brazil (Gomes da Silva 1975. work groups expand to include persons normallyunderemployedin theurbaneconomy.this number fluctuatesby up to 15 percent due to the seasonality of labor demand (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1975).It is noteworthythatby 1975 the boias friasrepresentedone fourthof the population economicallyactive in Sao Paulo agriculture. A perhaps generous estimation. 16). children under the age of fifteenworking as temporarywage laborers represented 9 percentof boias frias. p.. the boia friaemerged as an identifiablesocial group. and Graziano da Silva 1977). firewood. thisnumberalso representsas much as 39 percentofthe Brazilianpopulation that is economically active in agriculture.land forsubsistence production.increased seasonalityin the demand forrural labor.and 3 percentof the totalpopulation economically active in Sao Paulo agriculturein 1975 (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976). the absolute number of nonresidentrural workersincreased by almost 44 percentwhile the overall rural population declined by one third. thereis some evidence that the number of children in the Brazilian agriculturallabor force has expanded in recent years 93 This content downloaded from 168. includingwomen and children(Lange.housing. and revised labor legislation governingrural workers. working sporadicallyaccordingto the demand forhis or her service. During the 1964-75 period.In consequence. as suggested by tabulations carried out by Gonzales and Bastos (1975). the proportionof nonresident workersin the agriculturallabor forceexpanded from16 percentto 36 percent.

During the 1970-75 period.5 664.814 to 33.This situationis largelytheresultofthe family'sruralurban migration.LatinAmericanResearchReview TA BL E 1 Population Economically Active inAgriculture in1970according toRural orUrbanResidence. 11.which to my knowledge is the only existing example of this methodological approach. Concomitantly.117 100 100 100 100 Source:GonzalezandBastos(1975). the numberof agriculturally employed women and childrenin the BrazilianNortheastincreased by 7 percent(Rezende 1978. However.983 86.5 764.4 14.780 76. author's calculationsbased on 1975 census data).9. Of 194 familiesinterviewed.838 524.1 26.830 1.9 73.the principalrecourse is the "sale" of women's labor power along withthatof the men.719 1. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (Martins1978).438. overall child labor participationin Sao Paulo agriculturegrew by 21 percent.One result of increased formalemploymentby women was found to be a change in reproductivebehavior in favorof smallerfamilies.301.934 1.since children'swages are generallyhalfofadult rates.6 7. 78 percentcontainedtwo or moreworkingmembers.6 85. Economic advantage has been offered as the principalexplanation.4 92.134 13. Women represent a larger proportion of the agriculturalwork forcethan do children(Guimaraes 1978). The difficulty faced by urban familiesin sustainingthemselveson one salaryis clearlyregisteredin Oliveira's empiricalstudy (1978) ofboia fria familysurvival strategies.the absolute number of childrenin the boia friabrigades tripledduring these years from11. this is no longer possible in an urban environment.333. forSelected Brazilian States State Pernambuco Sao Paulo Parana Goias Urban % Rural % Total % 100. In her well-known study of a women's rural labor gang. In the same span. p.896 105. 13.Whereas previouslythese women participatedin subsistence agriculturalproductionas an extensionof theirdomesticactivities.440 954. and associated migration patternsthat attractyoung adults fromthe farmfamilywork forceinto unskilled urban employment. p.As a family survival strategy.83.220 (Antuniassi 1980). and theyparticipateactivelyas temporarywage laborers.40 on Wed. These descriptivestudies have only begun to probe the causes of increased on-farmchild labor use.279 346.6 94 This content downloaded from 168. this interpretationcould be enriched by a fuller considerationof household survival strategiesin the contextof deteriorating terms of exchange for rural workers.058 447. Verena Martinez-Alier(1977) notes that these women work outside the home because their husbands' salaries are insufficientto sustain the family.

reliability. and passivity. for example.theynegotiatedirectly-and at a disadvantage-with the employer.productivity. on the other hand. the work group has been found to be a constantcore firme). 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .fora year or more (Barros and Urban 1977. This amount generallyrepresents between 10 and 30 percentof the contractpayment (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976). the gato is a labor contractorwho agrees to provide a serviceto the employerfora set fee and then recruitsthe labor necessaryto carryout the task. The gato's earnings derive fromthe differencebetween the fee he receives and the payments he must make to the workers. hence explaining in part the employer's preferencefortemporarywage workers (Gonzales and Bastos 1975). In Saio Paulo. In these "fixed" groups (called turma of laborersmay work togetherregularlyforthe same gato. basing their known as gatosor turmeiros. and oftenon the same farm.called empreitada.however. At strategiccollection points in the urban peripheryof rural cities or towns. Paymentis made on a daily. The labor gang boss is linked to the farmemployerthroughone of several differentsocial relationships.9. The workers. the boia fria-man or woman-literally sells his or her labor to the highestbidder on a daily basis. The average work day lasts twelve to fourteenhours. Or he may be simplya truckowner who charges workersa "fare" to transport themto a work site where. Gomes da Silva 1977. this core group is augmented throughthe incorporationof friendsor relatives. the number of boias frias grew rapidly during the 1960-66 95 This content downloaded from 168. the intermittency means that they earn less on an annual basis. Labor gang bosses.40 on Wed.Most often.83. At times of peak demand.Although boias frias tend to earn more on a daily basis than do permanent residents or tenant farmers of their employment (including in-kind payments). upon arrival.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE In many cases.He may be the permanentemployee of a larger farmwho is responsible forrecruitinglabor.or piece-work productionbasis. The choices are quicklymade and by dawn the pick-up and flatbed trucksfull of boias friasare on theirway to the farmwhere that particularday's work will be done. predawn labor "auctions" fill local needs for temporary labor. circulate among the gatos in the effortto compare wages offeredand the type of job to be done. task-completed. Currentresearchhas also documented the limitsof boia friaparticipationin the overall temporarywage labor force. quite stable. costs and increases work intensity. Martinez-Alier1977). includinga lunch break and transportationtime of two to three hours. The is preferredsince it reduces supervision lattersystem. choices-to the extent possible-on strength. recruitthe day's work group. In a number of cases.7 Recentinvestigationhas ascertainedthatthe temporaryand transientnatureof these work groups is not nearlyas pervasive as originally thought.

Indeed.theBraziliansmall-family resilientand adaptable itselfto be remarkably fundia)has demonstrated (Grazianoda Silva 1978b.after1966the totalnumberremainedrelatively in the frias of boias representation the proportionate although stant.it has becomeincreasingly or are eitherunderemployed wage laborersin agriculture thetemporary seasonallyunemployedmembersof smallfarmfamilies(Moura 1978. de EconomiaAgricultura used sourcesaretheInstituto mostcommonly (IEA) in Sao Paulo.40 on Wed.the INCRA and IBGE data avoid thesamplingissue sincetheyare national 96 This content downloaded from 168. detailedstudyoftemporary wage Thecontinuedand increasingly thattheboia friais notthehomogeneousgroup laborhas demonstrated has been made to it was once thoughtto be.p. These data are thenextrapolated farmsstratified forall farmsin the state.In contrast. (Grazianoda Silva 1977).(2) the virtually sporadicboia fria-oftenminors. First.in thefaceofagricultural wage labor. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . in thestates Wanderley 1978).at leastone effort developa typologyoftheseworkers. laborforcecontinuedtoriseas theresultofsharpdeclinesin agricultural tenantlaborers(colonos).8 (parceiros) and sharecroppers clearthatmanyof At the same time.who periodically mittent dependingon availablejob opportunities.and (3) theintershiftsbetweenruraland urbanemboia fria.Grazianoda Silva (1978a)distinguishesthreemainsubgroups:(1) the permanentboia friawho works theentireyear. ployment At thispoint.and theInstituto 5.Review Research LatinAmerican conperiod.A smallersurveyoffamilyfarmsin theReconcavoregionofBahia wage indicatedthatmanyhouseholdmembersengagedin supplemental weeksa year(Saint1977b.TheIEA conductsa yearlysamplesurveyofapproximately to forma by farmsize.Thesefindings socialphenomenonwithina broaderprocess theboia friaas a transitory modernizaofruralproletarianization.generally of ofearlierinterpretations have forceda rethinking 164). second. In fact.Brant1979).increaseduse of all typesof agricultural farm(ministructural changesin ruralareas.This procedure configuration distributional createstwo difficulties. the InstitutoNacional de Colonizaqaoe Reforma Brasilierode Geografiae Estatistica Agraria(INCRA).However. forperiodsofsixto fifteen labor.9.500 (IBGE).it shouldbe notedthatmanyof theabove studies The have reliedon secondarydata sourcesthathave certainlimitations.An extensivefieldsurveyofsmallfarmers wage work of SRo Paulo and Minas Geraisascertainedthattemporary 40 percentof annual familyincome (FIPE contributed approximately 1975).the extrapolation plingerrorsthatsurpass20 percent(Antuniassi1980).83.once-a-yearsamplingdoes not provide much basis forassessingimportantseasonal variationsin temporary processoccasionallycreatessamlaboruse.womenor theaged-who worksone or twomonthsa yearduringperiodsofpeak demand.generallyas a memberofa fixedgroup.and major tion. the numberof residentworkers(camaradas).

Brant).even though these intervalsare staggered(INCRA in 1967 and 1972. Gonzales and Bastos 1975). Graziano da Silva. and many of these employ more qualitative than quantitativemethods. In short. Salaries are consistentlybelow the legislated minimumwage (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1975). However. Additionally.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE censuses. However. Verylittleefforthas been made to check the qualityand reliability of data on temporary wage labor from these sources.9.. in Parana'. While many researchershave used this informationwithoutqualification.nutritional shortcomingsare widespread and occasionally reach levels considered to be clinicallydeficient(Angeleli. They note that the work day varies fromten to fourteenhours. they do not resolve the seasonality problem since theyare conducted onlyat five-yearintervals. Bombo and Brunelli1966. the sample size-frequently limited by the availabilityof researchfunds-has oftenbeen questionablysmall. A numberof studies have commentedon the livingconditionsof boias frias(e. which relies on strategiesof multiple unskilled rural and urban employment trade-offsforits survivaland social reproduction(Brant1977). thatthe large majorityof workersare illiterate.there are importantexceptions(e. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Furthermore. the boias frias constitutea socially marginalized group. is stillnot available publicly.thathealth problems are constantand frequentlysevere. one study found that almost 80 percent of boias frias interviewed had not voted in the last election (Santos 1972).Vannuchiand Dutra de Oliveira 1978). the ambitious and potentiallyrich analysis of boias frias Unfortunately.concluded in 1979 and based on some twelve hundred field interviewsby the InstitutoParanaense de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (IPARDES). Guimaraes 1978).. Politicalparticipationis very low. Saint 1977a. Viewed generallyfroma Marxist-oriented 97 This content downloaded from 168. EXPLANATIONS OF THE BOIA FRIA PHENOMENON Early studies of temporarywage labor in agriculturetended to explain (and almost assume) the emergence of this new social group as the resultof capitalistpenetrationof the countryside(D'Incao e Mello 1975.these limitationshave not preventedresearcherssuch as D'Incao e Mello (1975) and Martinez-Alier(1977) frommaking imaginativeuse of small surveys in conjunction with other methodological approaches.40 on Wed.Probablyno more than a fifthof all boia friastudies are field based. and women are routinelypaid less than men (Martinez-Alier1977.g. Santos 1972. Where interview surveys have been used. D'Incao e Mello 1975). IBGE in 1970 and dissimilarso as to 1975). and thatmost workers'familieslive in a three-or four-roomshack thattheydo not own. definitionsof the sampling unit are sufficiently make comparison difficult(Graziano da Silva 1978b).83.g.

83.and make expliciteffortsto develop a comparativeunderstandingof the boia friaphenomenon in lightof relevantruralproletarianization experiencesfromotherLatin Americansettings. 98 This content downloaded from 168. Martins' (1979) carefulanalysis of tenant laborers (colonos) in the Sao Paulo coffeeindustryprovides one positive example of such an approach. are similar endeavors thatrelate the boia friato broader patternsof national and international development.312. however.will be discussed in turnbelow.9 An additional shortcomingof this literaturehas been its rather persistentfailureto framerural proletarianizationin Brazil within the contextof largerhistoricaland internationalprocesses. Brant 1977). thatto date therehas been littleattemptto weight these variables. Later studies rectified. a transitional social phenomenon arising from longer-term movements towards rural proletarianizationand the creation of a reserve labor pool forindustry.What is needed.9 kg in 1970. The most common measures of technologicalmodernizationhave emphasized changes in tractoruse.9.not unrelatedto the broader process of capital penetration in the countryside. The extent of these changes has been summarized in a major study of temporarywage labor in Sao Paulo agricultureconducted by the State SecretariatofPlanning (State of Sao Paulo 1978).Each of these factors.819 to 67.g.10Principalamong these have been: (1) technologicalmodernizationand concomitantincreases in the seasonal variationof demand foragriculturallabor. The study explores effectively the emergence of the colono worker group in relation to local economic development needs and associated patterns of foreignimmigration. the boia friawas seen as the natural consequence of this process. fertilizerapplication. Technological Modernization. littleeffortwas made to investigatethe extentto which changes in rurallabor relations were in fact related to increased capital investmentand technological innovation. Similarly.In many cases.and employmentof pesticides (e.4 kg duringthe 1961-65 period to 72. (2) changing cropping patternsand associated shiftsin labor requirements.these earlieromissions and provided greaterunderstandingofthe factorsthatserved as catalystsfor the appearance of the ruralwage laborers.. The extentto which one is deemed more importantthan another in provokingthis process often seems to reflectpersonal biases of the authorsratherthan any clear understandingof causal sequence.Technological modernizationin agriculture has been used frequentlyas a primaryindicator of increased capitalization in rural productive processes.LatinAmerican Research Review perspective.40 on Wed.and (3) labor legislation applied to rural workers and represented primarilyby the Estatuto do Trabalhador Rural (Statute for the Rural Worker). however.11 It notes that between 1950 and 1970 the number of tractorsin Sao Paulo increased eighteen-foldfrom3.average fertilizeruse per hectaregrew from28. It should be noted.at least in part. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . however.

peanuts.bananas.9. i. cattle99 This content downloaded from 168. coffee.Attentionto the employmentconsequences springingfromincreased use of purchased productioninputs has tended to overshadow the emergence of new organizational formsfor production.12 Finally. The socioeconomic effectsof this expansion process-greater use of wage labor.) surged by 53 percent (Gasques and Valentini1975). etc.Designed to produce specificexportitems (and more recently energycrops). To date. agro-industrialenterprisesare less tied to local markets and tend to locate in regions where land and labor costs are lower.933. agroindustry. soybeans. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. Consequently. 148). beans.reduced regional food supply. the number of agriculturalloans in Sao Paulo mushroomed from20.) declined by 13 percent. and the area planted in export or "modern" crops (cotton. sugar. etc. Between 1955 and 1975.has generatedpoorlyunderstood pressureson local production systems.the value of the average loan provided forthe purchases of farmtools and machineryincreased five-foldfrom1970 to 1975 (State of Sao Paulo 1978. Between 1968 and 1973.Changing cropping patternsand associated shiftsin labor requirementshave accompanied technological modernization and the massive infusion of agriculturalcredit.83. pp. 120.) fellby 28 percent. often focusing on the production of citrus and othertropicalfruits. At the same time. the area planted in subsistence crops (rice. capitalistpenetrationnotions have been framedlargely in terms of evolving modernization processes on medium and large farms. they often create a demand for wage labor that considerablysurpasses previous regional requirements.the area planted in semisubsistenceor "transitional"crops (corn. tomatoes.e. therebysuggestingthe extentto which agriculturalproductionis primarilya subsistence activity. During the same period. Agriculturalland use patternsin Sao Paulo have sufferedmajor modifications. ChangingCroppingPatterns.thus supportingthe notion that agriculturalproduction has become more commerciallyoriented (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976).In recentyears Brazil has expanded agriculturalcreditin an effortto financeits costly petroleum purchases by increasingagriculturalexports.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE and expenditureson pesticidesby farmers(measured in constantprices) quadrupled between 1950 and 1970.602 to 418. oranges.This phenomenon has been particularlyobservable in the BrazilianNortheastwhere agroindustrial expansion. this proportionin Sao Paulo increased from72 percentto 81 percent. The expansion of agriculturalcredithas been a major stimulusto technologicalmodernization. declining nutritionalstatus-have been widely hypothesized but not generallyconfirmed. rural out-migration.40 on Wed. etc.a furtherindicatorof capitalistpenetrationof rural areas mightbe the proportionof farmproduction that is sold. cassava.Between 1967 and 1972.

The resultis greaterseasonal variationin labor demand (Graziano da Silva 1978a). rice (859%).9. 28).In the major coffeeproducing states of Sao Paulo and Parana. However. The introductionof machineryand herbicidestends to reduce the labor requirements for soil preparation and planting and subsequent cultivational practices. Many of these persons migratedto nearby towns where theyoscillatebetween urban and ruralemployment. Since cottonand sugar cane are among those crops with the highestseasonal demand for labor. p. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . even as the total amount of agriculturalland expanded (Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976. the number of persons economicallyoccupied by agriculturedeclined in Sao Paulo between 1964 and 1975 from2 million to 1.83. One effectof changing land use patternshas been a general decline in the regional demand for agriculturallabor. pasture land replaced 27 percent and 40 percent. However.labor utilization is higher and more constant during the agriculturalyear. and citrus (712%). Under traditionalproduction systems. and under currentsystems of production export crops are generally less labor intensive than subsistence crops.of coffeelands cleared througha governmenteradication program(Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976. A second major effectofchangingland use patternsand concomitantmodernizationhas been increased seasonal variationin the demand foragriculturallabor. the total value of agriculturalproduction credit (custeio)for cattle-raisingsoared to 20 times the original level. The expansion of exportand industriallyorientedcrops is directly related to favorablebiases in agriculturalcreditprograms and agricultural policy generally.40 on Wed.the most economically efficientresponse to this variation and associated possible labor bottlenecks at harvest is the use of temporary wage laborers. in part supplanting areas that had previously produced coffee. sugar cane (1. it is noteworthythat Sao Paulo received roughlyhalf of the nation's cotton creditin both years and the average value of Sao Paulo sugar-cane loans increased much more rapidly than those nationwide.026%). when coupled with fertilizer use. between 1970 and 1975 certainSaio Paulo crops received major creditallocation increases: soybeans (2. these techniques.the dynamicgrowthand concentrationof creditforthese crops in Sao Paulo may explain in part why the boia friaphenomenon has been particularlycharacteristicof Sao Paulo agriculture. Over the same period. As export and industrialcrops have replaced subsistence crops.Review LatinAmerican Research raising also increased.As illustratedin table 2. p. In consequence.302%). forexample. From the producer's standpoint. respectively. 100 This content downloaded from 168. 36). These trendswere also generallyobserved forBrazil as a whole. generally increase yields and thereforeaugment the labor requirementsforharvest.3 million. Cattle-raisingrequires only 14 percent of the labor that coffee production does.

byEconomicActivity:1970-1975 Sao Paulo 1975 1970 Cotton Peanuts Rice Coffee SugarCane Beans Corn Soybeans Citrus Cattle No. migrate to nearby urban 101 This content downloaded from 168.401 120.4 Brazil Cotton Peanuts Rice Coffee SugarCane Beans Corn Soybeans Citrus Cattle 96.655 1.386.0 91.9 65.3 1. 149). the price of both arable land and pasture land quintupled (State of Sao Paulo 1978.412.3 4.665 37.6 1.8 25.2 4.432 74.000) Average Value (Cr $1000) 24.9 25.2 6.3 24. p.662 12.361.6 11.9. Many others.934 5.0 15.846 61.3 1.p.7 8.0 3.550 68.7 4.5 35.763 26.1 58.6 11.661 Source:StateofSao Paulo(1978.2 22.4 1.409 262.7 18.3 3. In Sato Paulo.381.439 14.1 7.381 22.239 21.952.9 706.737.094 5.3 294.2 30.967 12.9 10.8 336.83.3 18.998 30.0 17. At the same time.513 482.1 1.000.4 40. 135).475.0 4.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE T A B L E 2 Agricultural LoansforProduction Credit(Custeio)in Sao Paulo and Brazil.541.230 136.8 243.2 586. agriculturalcredit programs have also increased the demand foragriculturalland.1 52.5 10.445.198 29.370 152.5 335.041 29.575 974 24.934 100.4 40.3 4.0 5.533.1 519. of Loans Value* (Cr $1.3 128.4 60.7 7.262 736.8 345.889 157.569.342 23.238 69.248. between 1969 and 1976. the value of agriculturalproduction per unit of land has increased.7 10.000) Average Value (Cr $1000) 13.522 6. Rising land priceshave induced many small holders to sell theirplots and relocatein the Amazon or neighboring Paraguay-in which a reported 150.7 6.2 92.2 7.238 34.3 837.3 No.9 29. *In1971constantprices. for example.858 38.40 on Wed.0 5.823 7.2 31.270 14.3 173.899 23.4 3.5 7.5 53.5 151.0 69.8 4.3 243.964. of course.512 4. As a result of these processes.3 7.4 231.8 48.8 67. prices for agriculturalland have risen at extraordinaryrates.0 39.5 59.577 259.3 522.2 1.940 3. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .0 583.6 8.000.844 32.4 188.9 269.2 98.2 187.2 45.496 15. of Loans Value* (Cr $1.000 Braziliansnow reside-where land sale earningspermitthe purchase of larger properties.

The more importantof these include receiptof minimumwage.The Estatutodo TrabalhadorRural (ETR). given the transienceand tenuousness of employmentin many boia friawork groups.crop substitution. severance pay in case of dismissal. and rural outmigrationhave been observed in the Northeaststateof Bahia (Saint and Goldsmith1980). verylittlesystematiceffort 102 This content downloaded from 168. a 48-hourwork week. subsequently modified and increasingly enforced. depending on the agreed conditionsunder which the residentlabor forceis maintained on the farm. As enforcementof this legislation became more effective. At the timethese rightswere established-and afterwardmost rural employers did not comply with these requirements. forcingthemto seek employmentas unskilled laborers in the town and surrounding countryside. retirementpension. annual paid vacation. Under this arrangement. established forthe rurallaborera series of rightsand guarantees identical to those received by urban workers.9.itbecame cheaper forthe employerto pay workers a cash wage.83.However.the boias friashave certaineconomic advantages over otherformsof employment(Gonzales and Bastos 1975. and the work week.the switchto temporarywage labor can resultin savings to the employersof 10 to 30 percent.researchershave been quick to note that. While temporarywage workerscan earn more than residentworkersat a daily rate. Thus. Gasques and Gebara 1977). and a number of medical and other social welfarebenefits(Rossini 1977. vacation. signed into law in 1963. Graziano da Silva and Gasques 1976.shiftinglabor demand. severance pay. so thattheycould purchase theirfood in the market.than to provide the time and land necessary forthem to produce theirown food (Singer 1975. they earn much less on an annual basis. and compliance with labor legislationincreases labor costs by a further27 percent(Gonzales and Bastos 1975). LaborLegislation. Under these conditions. Similar processes of credit-fueledland concentration. violations and noncompliance have been exceedinglydifficult to prove. froman employer's perspective.the gato ratherthan the farmowner is directlyresponsible forcompliance with the ETR legislation.13 a corresponding strong tendency was observed on the part of the employersto reduce theirresidentlabor force(and consequentlytheirlegal obligations)and increase the use of temporarywage laborerscontracted through the gatos. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Chiarelli 1976). These land price increases also have contributeddirectlyto the substitutionof temporarywage laborers forresident farmworkers. However. The move to temporary labor thus resultsin considerable savings to the employerssince in-kind payments to resident workersmay representas much as 27 percent of theirincome.40 on Wed. As land values climbed.especially those concerning salary. Brant 1977).Review Research LatinAmerican centerswhere theircash reservesare rapidlyexhausted.

it appears thatthe boia large mass of free-floating friahas emerged in response to particularregion-specificchanges in the structureof agriculturalproduction. p.and land reform(Gomes da Silva and Pinto 1976). Suggested legal responses have included the formation of labor cooperatives.and suggests that "aggregative data on wage employmentare unlikelyto provide reliable measures of ruralproletarianization. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS The appearance of the boia friain certainregions of Brazil should not suggest that the country'srural labor forceis being transformedinto a wage workers. However. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the portionof boias friascomprisedby 103 This content downloaded from 168. furtherunderstandingof specificagriculturaldevelopment contextsand associated local agro-social change processes in regions outside Sao Paulo-particularly theNortheast.83. The existenceof stable work groups thatare employed the year around on a single farmimplies that employer-workerrelationships may be more than purelyeconomic. Similarly.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE has been made to check these perceptionsdirectlythroughthe analysis of farmaccounting. however. but limitson the seasonal fluctuationsof labor demand suggest thatthis number is not likelyto surpass the 25 percent proportionof the labor forcethatit now constitutesin the more developed agriculturalareas of Brazil. At the same time.Rather. Reinforcingthe need forcomparative local studies on temporarywage labor. the total number of boias friasmay increase. Graziano da Silva and Passos 1976). it has been noted that the application and enforcementof existinglegislationwould probably resolve most of the identifiedproblems (Federaq5o dos Trabalhadoresna Agriculturado Estado do Parana 1976). centralwest cerrados The extentto which the boias friasrepresenta fullyindependent ruralproletariatmay also be questioned. and of owner decision-makingprocesses and their rationaleforthese changes.A varietyoflegal violations have been documented.some of the recentSao Paulo research suggests their possible relevance for that region as well."AlthoughGoodman's remarksreferto the BrazilianNortheast. mightprove enlighteningin this regard.9. Considerable attentionhas been given in the literatureto the role of the ETR in the formationof the boias friasand to possible legislative solutionsto the problemsthattheyconfront.forexample.theAmazon and the -will be necessaryto substantiatethisobservation.40 on Wed. Goodman (1977. Furtherstudy of the turmafirme. greatercontrol of gatos and registrationof temporarylaborers. 25) notes the difficulty of distinguishingfreeand dependent socioeconomic relationshipsbetween employerand worker. as well as the boias frias' almost total lack of access to judicial process (Passos and Aranha 1975.To the extentthatthese changes are replicatedin other areas.

14 This topic is particularlyimportantin Brazil's currentpolitical setting.there is a need to comprehend the boia fria phenomenon in relationto the broader dynamics of Brazilian economic policies. Greater attentionto sex and age differentialsamong temporary agriculturallaborers might assist in the comprehension of evolving familysurvival strategieswithin low-income populations.40 on Wed. however. For example. and theirnegative interactioneffectshave the strongestimpact on the smaller farms. 104 This content downloaded from 168. Family budget and life-cycleanalysis could well generate enlightening informationon this subject. primarily Finally.00 per day-it seems unlikelythatmechanizationwill replace the boia fria. and growingruralsocial tensions have combined to produce a resurgenceof ruralpolitical and social mobilizationactivities unequalled in over a decade. complementarylines of investigationmight serve to furtherunderstandingof the particularcircumstancesthat engender and sustain temporarywage laborers as an identifiablesocial group.15 If. and theirpotential for mobilization through cooperatives.the role of basic infrastructure roads. in creatingthe preconditionsforboth capital-intensiveagriculture explored.Such policies tend to turnthe termsof trade against agriculture.Rural labor generallybears the bruntof this implicittax burden in the formof limitedreturnsand low wages. which have been severelypressed by the growingincome inequities of recentyears. Recent political partyrestructuring. trade policies may favorexportcrops over domesticfood production. It is difficult to judge the degree to which the boia friamay represent a transitorysocial phenomenon in the historyof Brazilian agriculturaldevelopment.and exchange-ratepolicies may resultin overvalued currenciesthat implicitlytax the traditionallyexport-orientedprimary sector.83. and the use of urban-based farmlaborers mightbe fruitfully Since many integratedruraldevelopmentprojectsplace heavy emphasis theremay be an association between such effortsand on infrastructure.In this context. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . or political movements. futuregovernmentsocial and economic policies address productivelythe structuralproblems of ruralincome inequality.Review Research LatinAmerican sporadic laborers-usually women and childrennot regularlyin the job market-is hardly consistent with traditionalconceptions of a rural proletariat.9. rural unionization. Since these workersalso have the option of seeking urban employment-and indeed some ofthemdo on a periodicbasis-the degree of articulationbetween urban and rurallabor marketsmightbe explored profitably. As long as ruralwages remainlow-currently $2. Verylittleresearch has been done on temporarywage laborers' own view of theirhistory.00 to $4.theirpersonal ideologies. At the same time.greatertolerance of divergentopinions. development. the expansion of wage labor use in agriculture.

some new developmentsmay be forthcoming. either through distributionof public terrainsor local colonizationprograms. Brazil's currentecolimitsharplythe resourcesavailable forsuch programs. an Amazon area twice the size of New Yorkstate recently was placed under National SecurityCouncil jurisdictionwith the purpose of effectinglocalized land reform. At the same time. Social and economic policies under the administrationof Brazil's president. and health services. continuingBrazilian dependence on petroleum imports and associated inflationand balance-of-paymentspressuressuggestthat in the shortrun littlemore than cosmeticattentionwill be given to the problemsof the country'ssix millionboias frias. a governmentprogram of limited "agrarian reform" has been launched recentlyin selective areas of extremesocial tension. overtimecompensation. In this context. a wildcat strikeby Pernambucosugar-cane workersin October 1979 was accompanied by petitionsforsalaryincreases. household plots for subsistence cultivation.a number of land redistributionprojects forthe impoverished Northeast region are now being prepared forWorldBank and Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank funding.83. education.This undertakinghas createda less repressivepoliticalenvironment in which organized labor can begin to articulateclass-based demands for wage adjustments and improved working conditions. nomicdifficulties Consequently. For example. Under these circumstances.Outgoing MinisterofLabor Arnaldo Prieto noted that effortsare underway to organize boias friasinto labor cooperativesthatwould permitworkersto negotiatedirectlyand collectivelywith employers. appear unlikelyto cause any major change in the social conditions under which the boia fria lives and works.00 per day wage. Moreover. and employercompliance with legislated labor regulations.and improved transportationsecurityfor boias frias. For example.in May 1980. who took officein March 1979. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the large bulk of boias friascould well pass from sporadic employmentto chronicunemployment. equal pay forwomen. effectivemeans of incorporating boias friaswithinthe rurallabor unions are also under discussion. some landless workers are likely to regain access to land. However. In this setting.More recently. Greater remedial attentionis also being given to disadvantaged rural groups through governmentactivitiesaimed at improvingrural housing.40 on Wed.Additionally.agriculturalworkersin the newly established coffeearea of Bahia initiateda strikein an effortto obtain a $4. Nevertheless.a significantgovernmentinitiativewas launched in 1979 in the effortto createa politicalopening and "redemocratize"the country. Gen. half-timework forchildren. Joao Baptista de Figueiredo.16 105 This content downloaded from 168.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE enhanced ruralincomes could raise the cost of labor to the point where mechanized substitutionof labor might occur on a large scale.9.

p. locatedin Botucatu.a neighboring stateofSao Paulo.see Grazianoda Silva(1978b).an amountalmostequal in valueto theagricultural GNP Sincemostoftheseloanscarriedinterest therealinterest rateslowerthantherateofinflation.respectively (Murad. oftheearlyboiafrialiterature Fora critique thatemphasizesthispoint. pilao. Muchofthedebateon theboiafriaphenomenon. See Gomes da Silva (1977). boiafriameans "cold lunch.1976).SallumJunior(1978)."The termderivesfromthe day laborers'practice ofcarrying theirlunchwiththemtotheirworkin thefield.to thedecliningpoliticalinfluences ofrural elitesas Brazilbecomesincreasingly efforts urbanized. pau-de-arara. clandestino. 5.cattle-raising has replacedcoffee.therearean estimated 400. Theresultis a verysizablesocialsubsidyoftheagricultural sector.whichinterviewed 303femaleagricultural overhalfreportedthattheyhad enteredtherurallaborforcebeworkers.has been replacedby themechanizedcultivation of soyand 2 person-days beansand wheat.p.and Brant(1979). 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In 1977totalagricultural creditprovidedin Brazilwas approximately $23. ratewas negative.whichrequireonly9 person-days oflaborper hectareplanted. In exceptionalcases. 41).OliveiraNeto(1977). In Parana.Foran extensivequantitative description ofthesegroupsforBrazilas a whole.1976).unemployment. Rurallaborunions havebecomemoreactivein defending workers'rights. erty.see Goodman and Redcift(1977).thisis theBrazilianequivalentto theEnglish"enclosuremovement" in thesixteenth and is describedbyMarx(1906.Review Research LatinAmerican NOTES 1.40 on Wed.Stein. 8. centration thetransformation ofcommonlandsintoprivatepropand thecreation ofa largegroupoflandlesswage laborers. This projectis one of threemajorresearchefforts on the themefinancedby the ofLabor.Medeiros. foretheage oftwelveyears(Oliveira1978.9.and Garcia(1977).Temporarywage laborersarealso knownas volante. In manyways.There. 13. 12.5billion. 3. causinglandconcentraand changinglaborrelationsas documented tion. Fordiscussionsofrecentchangesin ruralsocialrelations thatfocusdirectly on these differential groups.see Madeiraand Singer (1975).birolo (Sao Pauloand avulso(Bahia).1:788-805). In one Sao Paulostudy. Thereare severalapparentreasonsforincreasedenforcement.it is currently theonlyone thatis concludedand published.see Antuniassi(1976).and ofunionactivities to reducethesocialtensionsarisingfromexgenerally. Literallytranslated.coffee. 38). the laborgang boss maybe a woman.The Ministry othertwoare:theInstituto JoaquimNabucoforPemambucoStateand theInstituto Paranaensede Desenvolvimento Economicoe Social-IPARDES forParanaState. The table1 percentagesare onlyroughlycomparablewithsimilarcalculations for Mexico(Dotsonand Dotson1978.000boiasfrias (Murad. 2.whichshowedproportions ofurbanbased from3 to9 percentin majormetropolitan agriculturalists areas.83. as wellas manyofthestudiescited intheongoingforums here. especiallysincetheyhavein manyinstancescometoincorporate unioncontracted lawyerswhoprovidefreelegal assistancetounionmembers. and sponsoredby the Departmento de Economia Ruralfrom1975to 1980.p. 10.Official toleration oftheseendeavors. (RioGrandedo Sul). 694). Fora generaldiscussionofwomenin Brazil'slaborforce. caatingueiro (Pernambuco).biscateiro orchangueiro Paranai). 6.In otherareasofthestate.too.Sao Paulo. whichoccurred century.and toconsciousgovernment to expandthemarketsfordomesticconsumerproductsby providing ruralpopula- 106 This content downloaded from 168.theconwho notesthesubstitution oflandownership. 7. maybe due toefforts tremeincomeinequality in ruralareas. 9. fringe Overallparticipation ofchildren and underin Brazilianagriculture aged fourteen has been calculatedas 16 percentoftheeconomically activepopulationin theprimary sector(Brant1979. oflabor foreach hectareplanted.occurred on agriculprovidedbytheannualconferences turalwagelaborheldat theUniversidade EstadualPaulistaJuliode MesquitaFilho. by MaxineMarwhichrequires96person-days golis(1973). ofcroppedlandbypastureforsheepand cattle. 11. 4.

UEPJMF.Botucatu. BOMBO." Mimeo. LILLIAN 43. 1979 "Populac. MARIA HELENA ROCHA 1976 "Contribuiqao ao Estudo das Relac6es de Produq2aono Meio Rural.7-8 December.-abr. 1978 "Estado Nutricionalde Boias Frias de Ribeirao Preto. AND DUTRA DE OLIVEIRA. FEDERA?AO DOS TRABALHADORES DA AGRICULTURA NO ESTADO DO PARANA Nacional. MARIA CONCEIAO e Miseria.TEMPORARY LABOR IN BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE tionswithguaranteesforsome cash incomeand associatedincreasedpurchasing power."RuralSociology 710. UEPJMF.Sao Paulo: Departamento de Economia Rural.):37-92. ANTUNIASSI.83. no. from 14. VANNUCHI." In MOVA: III Reuniiao tamentode Economia Rural." Sao Paulo: Centro Brasileiro de Analise e PesquisaCEBRAP (draft).no.40 on Wed. 15. Sao Paulo: UEPJMF. CHIARELLI. 6911978 "Mexico's Urban-DwellingFarmers.Botucatu.ao e Forqa de Trabalho no Desenvolvimento da Agricultura Brasileira. ROSEMARIE deSafreiro. W. FIPE-FUNDA?AO INSTITUTO DE PESQUISAS ECONOMICAS deBaixaRenda. Sao 1976 "Trabalhador Volante. FLOYD. 2 (mar. VINICIUS CALDEIRA 1977 "Do Colono ao Boia Fria: Transformaq6esna Agriculturae Constituic. 107 This content downloaded from 168. AND BRUNELLI. CARLOS ALBERTO Interna1976 "Proteccion social de trabajadoresrurales en el Brasil. J. H. A.-Mar. AND URBAN. 4. for1980was apneeds.Inflation 85 percentofitspetroleum imports 16. Piracicaba: Faculdade de Serviqo Social.Botucatu. D' INCAO E MELLO.ao do Mercado de Trabalho na Alta Sorocabana de Assis. A partialexceptionis Sab6ia (1978)who analyzestheworldviewsstemming potentialinherentin theseperand the organizational boia friasurvivalstrategies spectives. Sao Paulo: Departmentode EcoMOVA:II Reuniato nomia Rural.Petropolis:EditoraVozes. Botucatu. 1975 0 BoiaFria:AcumulaVao DOTSON. Botucatu.9. UEPJMF. E. 1966 Estudoda Condiafo BRANT." In MOVA: II Reuniiio Paulo: Departamento de Economia Rural.Cr$100toCr$200." EstudosCEBRAP 19 (Jan. MARIA LUCIA 1977 "O Trabalho Assalariado Rural Volante: Notas Para uma CaracterizaNacional. Atthepresentexchangerate. BARROS." Paper presented at MOVA: IV Reuniaio Nacional. AND DOTSON. pp.." In Nacional. Sao Paulo: Deparq2o.):175-88. ELAINE. NEUSA. 1980 "O Trabalho InfantilNa Agriculturado Estado de Sao Paulo. foreign 110percent. Brazilpresently debtis over$54billionand rising.The country's proximately BIBLIOGRAPHY naAgricultura Note: MOVA = MaodeObraVolante UEPJMF = Universidade Estadual Paulista Juliode Mesquita Filho ANGELELI. UEPJMF." Revista cionaldelTrabajo93.Brasilia: deApoioAosAgricultores 1975 BasesParaUmPrograma Ministerioda Agricultura. 30 Apr 2014 15:41:38 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

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