Risks and Strategies of Amaoznian Households: Retail Sales and Mass-Market Consumption among Caboclo Women

Jessica Chelekis

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Abstract

The Amazon is widely regarded as a peripheral region, connected to international economies as a supplier of forest materials. However, little research investigates other ways Amazonian residents are connected to global markets, especially through the sale and consumption of mass-produced goods. This article presents ethnographic research investigating the risks and value of working as a direct sales representative for global beauty brands in three Amazonian communities. While direct sales offerss potentially significant income, in practice, most representatives earn meager profits or just break even; many lose money, and some fall into debt. I address the question of why women would pursue an activity with a high risk of financial loss from an institutional and feminist economic perspective. The findings reveal that the risk of debt, as well as the potential household contribution from direct sales, derives from the particular institutional environment that characterizes rural Amazonian communities. The appeal of direct sales lies in the opportunities it affords for social inclusion and enhancing household well-being. These opportunities include access to discounted consumer goods, social bonds through sales relationships, and participation in “global sociality” through direct sales catalogs and products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalEconomic Anthropology
Volume4
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Brazilian Amazon
  • Direct Sales
  • Household Economies
  • Gender

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