The transformation of Mexican copper miners: The dynamics of social agency and mineral policy as economic development tools
History, Latin American.
Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSince the copper boom of the late nineteenth century, mining companies have been riding "the copper roller coaster." The well being of miners and their families appears to be tied to international market forces beyond their control. This dissertation uses a case study of miners in Cananea, Sonora, to analyze the relationships between changes in Mexican mineral policy from 1960 to 1998 and Mexico's economic connections with the United States. It employs Immanuel Wallerstein's framework of a world-system linked through hegemonic relationships between a core country, a semiperiphery and periphery (C-SP-P), and looks at the economic and political circumstances under which shifts in this system occur. Within this world-system Kondratieff waves are used to depict periods of stagnation and growth. Policy changes are reflected in economic cycles, and policy also shapes copper extraction, production and marketing. Until the 1970s American multinational corporations under privatization extracted surplus copper from Sonora as a peripheral region. However, once Mexico embarked on a policy of nationalization of the mineral industry (1971-1989), the country intentionally delinked from the U.S. In 1990 the Cananea mine was again privatized as part of Mexico's economic restructuring, with production directed toward international markets. Policy changes are evaluated in terms of Mexican development and the well being of the miners. This analysis is based upon the concept of articulation between capitalist modes of production within the world-system. The concept "articulation" includes confrontations and alliances between classes within each region or country as well as the relations between the C-SP-P. In particular, the miners use political linkages with the national union to defend their interests. However, with economic restructuring and privatization in the 1980s and 1990s, the government-labor alliance is supplanted by government-business alliance, and labor conflict and workforce transformation result. Policy turnovers influence everyday practices in gender relations as families face economic crises. Miners' wives form a political front to support their husbands' struggles with the company and to maintain access to potable water. Furthermore, attitudes toward environmental resource use are caught between maintaining the miners' job source and securing a safe and reliable source of water for the region.
Degree ProgramGraduate College