Eugenio Scala, Susana Azzollini, Horacio Bozzano y Josefina Scala Grupo TAG La Plata, Argentina
Different State institutions and international organisms put of relief a category of producers of the Argentine pampean dairy, until now absents of censuses, whose bond with the market is informal and clearly different of the professionalized producers from traditional river basins of the country (González Crende & Scala, 2006).
These informal milkmen have been largely forgotten (Quintana et al. , 2007).
The study of these extra-pampean valleys is highly important. In this area, there are at least 2.000 producers with the possibility of developing themselves and there is very little or none information about them.
The social policies, and especially those that intent to attend poverty, promote assistance when putting the accent in social control and legitimating of political actors, more than in the possibilities of a greater governability by users or beneficiaries (Alvarado Chacín and Neritza, 2003).
On the contrary, if it is desired to organize sustainable programs of development or reconversion of marginal milk producers it is necessary to know the cultural diversity and its perception of their own necessities and activities (Scala, 2011). In fact, it can be considered that Territorial Intelligence is the way in which the actors develop themselves to make the territories more sustainable and durable than the present ones, in a frame of social governability that promotes this development (Bozzano, 2010).
“ Forms of knowledge, socially elaborated and shared, with a practical orientation directed to a common reality construction in a social net” (Jodelet, 1984: 39).
The representations can be understood like a process because they also constitute an appropriation activity in the time of the outer reality to the subject, and like a product because they are a psychological and social elaboration of reality (Moscovici, 1961).
It is important to point out that because the representations are created and sustained by “located” agents, that occupy a special position in the social space, there is a permanent struggle between different groups that try to impose their own vision of the world.
This is due to the fact that the representation establishes part of its own position in that world and, consequently, it is a part of its social identity.
Through this symbolic struggle of representations, the agents keep their social identity and try to reproduce (or improve) the position they occupy in the social space. Even though the representations include structure, functioning and ideological elements, they do register in an original way “the effects of history and the mentality that mark the life of both groups and individuals” (Jodelet, 2003: 102).
Any attempt of development proposed by Territorial Intelligence that aim to achieve a social change must take into consideration how subjects build their own world and which are their beliefs and opinions about their practices so that they can denaturalize their own social representations and disembowel the ideology that legitimates them.
Social representations are a mean to achieve the comprehension of the role of the inscription of the subjects in a social order in a specific place and time (Jodelet, 2000).
Objective : Identify the social representation about its activity of marginal milk producers, with the purpose of knowing their cultural mandates and social interests to construct another form of development.
Subjects and sample : 28 milk informal producers from the provinces of Misiones, Formosa, Corrientes y Entre Ríos, in Argentine Republic.
Techniques and instruments : We made in depth interviews and a free association with: “Being a dairyman”. Free association allows the update of implicit elements that would be masked in discursive productions (Abric, 1987) .
Data analysis : A qualitative analysis through emergent categories of the speeches was made. We used the technical support of software Atlas.ti. For the association of words, two indicators of the organizations of social representations were considered: frequencies and medium ranks. It was used the statistic software SPSS 11.5, Spanish version
1. Results: A few examples of what the producers said.
“ It is sacrificed because of the amount of time that consumes. You also have to do it every day.”
“ The drawback is that it is extremely sacrificed. It doesn’t give you any free time. There are no holydays! I was going to quit, but she taught me into going on.”
“ You tell me I’m young, but there is another thing: one has being struggling his whole life. I’m taking pills for my back pains. In our activity not only there is no rest at all but we are not used to rest either”.
“ Who is in the subject knows how passionate it is. You start and don’t want to give it up.”
“ It is what happens to milkman, you are chased by soya because you get more money. However, when they change they leave crying.”
“ And it doesn’t matter, one gets excited with the animals and when you present a product, you look at it and say “I did that!”
“ I started 8 years ago with her and we had nothing. We started everything from nothing. And I’ve have been working nonstop. Look everything I’ve achieved in these eight years.”
“ We sell a lot…we sell very quickly.”
“ Selling directly to the consumer (like people from the town) gives us a good profit.”
Ways of commercialization
“ We have different clients in the morning and in the afternoon.”
“ The delivery takes me about an hour and a half. It depends on whether I start chatting or not (…) I like making friends.”
“ To get to sell to the factory we have to get to 500 liters. We got to 500 liters and we could work. Some want to live producing 100 liters. That is not profitable for the factory, it doesn´t work.”
“ The milk that goes to the market that costs 80 cents, could it be sold? I think that 90 cents would be better, we just have to produce more…but not with these cows.”
“ A possibility is that the producer himself makes the cheese and sells it here in Formosa’s market. The other possibility is selling to dairy companies, if there is one. Oh, and that depends on how much you get payed!”
We are all saturated, we want to quit and we can’t stop selling milk.”
It is possible to observe an ambivalence between the sacrificing and slavering of the work and the passion and compromise that comes with the emotional part of the activity.
Both aspects seem to peacefully coexist because it is a profitable job. However, that profitability seems to be conditioned by several ways of commercialization, where a new dichotomy appears: selling the product themselves or selling it to a factory.
Chart 1. Structure of the social representation
Importance Medium Rank ≤2,5 Importance Medium Rank > 2,5 Frequency ≥ 7 Work/hard worker (7) Sacrificed/hard/ effort (7) Passion (7) Tied/depend/all year/ no holydays (13) I like it/nice (13) Challenge (8) Profitable/ good business (7) Frequency < 7 Less sacrificed (3) Rewarding/satisfactory (3) Compromise/ compromised (3) Joy/ enthusiasm (2) An alternative (2) Everything/ mi life (6) We hold on/ there is no other choice (6) Money/ get money (5) Cow (4) Tradition/ continue my father’s legacy (4) Family (4) Headache/ renounce (3) Noble product/ important food (3) Good future (2) Obligations (2) Selling milk (2)
It can be observed that the core of social representation is qualified with affective ambivalence:
sacrificed/hard/effort and passionate .
In the first periphery that ambivalence is present but with a lower intensity where sacrificed is replaced by “tied”, “dependent”, etc. and passion is associated with “I like it” and “nice”.
Maybe this ambivalence is overcome in the aspects of “profitable”, “good business” and “challenge” . This seems to reconcile the polarity that appears in the central core.
Regarding the contrasted elements zone, there seems to be a sub-group that considers being a milkman as “an alternative” and not as a central activity even though the characteristics of the central core remain where “sacrificed” is related to “compromised”, “passion” to “joy” and “enthusiasm” to “rewarding”.
This data, extracted from the structural approach of social representation, matches the findings of procesual approach made from the analysis of the speeches of the participants.
The objetivation process shows a constitutive tension of social representations´ figurative core of marginal milk producers: the “vocation”, like the image of sacrificed passional work/ near the cows/ without holidays, and the “business” like the image of money and daily entrance.
This tension refers to themata Ego/Alter like a naturalized antinomy transmitted from generation to generation as part of cultural communication.
From the point of view of the anchorage, the emergent contradictions allude to the debate that arises to the inside of this group respect to commercialization forms: independent milkmen versus milk producers that sell to industries.
These results are fundamental for the comprehension of the activity and the possibility of a sustainable development from these informal producers.
The social representation of their activity shows that they have a micro economy that allows them to survive far away from poverty.
However, since they are small and have low resources they are not considered for assistance programmes.
This has already happened to other groups of small producers that have been studied in Argentina, where assistance programmes and social aid are distributed in a discretionary way, trading them for political subordination (Landini, 2002).
Social policies promote assistance by focusing on social control and the legitimization of political actors, instead of doing so on the possibilities of a greater governability through technical and political learning from the beneficiary (Neritza, 2003).
The perspective of Territorial Intelligence proposes to solve the structural problems, taking back a more active role of the protagonists, allowed by their participation in the social organizations they are members of. By doing so, they will overcome the assistance system that benefits the disarticulation of the social dialectic.