Chapter

The Criterion of Wealth Among Farmers

Elvin Hatch

in Respectable Lives

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 1991 | ISBN: 9780520074729
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911437 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520074729.003.0005
The Criterion of Wealth Among Farmers

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This chapter addresses how local farm families judge who is wealthier than whom. The beginning phase of the farm's developmental cycle is marked by constant struggle to meet the mortgage payment, and this has a significant effect on a young family's lives. The income tax system effectively reduces the range of differences in spendable income among community members. In South Downs, the landholder's wealth is not assessed in terms of the size of the farm or the number of sheep it carries. The farmers in South Downs assume that the hierarchy of wealth in the district is natural, in that it reflects certain objective economic constraints or factors that they all face. The spirit of capitalism more accurately describes the California case than that of South Downs. The analysis of this chapter reveals an important principle, that is, the naturalization of the criterion of wealth in local thought.

Keywords: farm families; wealth; developmental cycle; income tax; South Downs; capitalism; California; naturalization

Chapter.  8076 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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