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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Making Aluminum in the Rainforest... The Socioeconomic Impact of Globalization in the Brazilian Amazon

Author: Ciccantell, P. S.
Author Background:
Date Winter, 1999
Type Journal
Journal Title: Journal-of-Developing-Areas
Volume/Pages 33(2) 175-198
Subject Matter Community Development; International; Globalization; Amazon; Rainforest
Abstract The theoretical perspective of new historical materialism is taken to explore how joining the world economy on the basis of raw materials impacts socioeconomically the extractive region, drawing on multiple-method (eg, interviews, observation) case study data on 4 materials-based communities in the Brazilian Amazon serving the aluminum & hydroelectric industries. The planning & political debate phase saw a marginalization of local population in the process & a centralization of national government political & economic control that accelerated during the construction phase. Construction typically results in major local socioeconomic impacts... employment; wages; local linkage to other economic activities (eg, provision of inputs); shifting local production systems & skills, particularly in terms of raw materials & transportation; infrastructural investments with no use beyond the life of the project; fiscal effects, eg, state & local taxes & a lack of government funding to pay incurring costs; massive relocation of local populations; & issues of assimilation & cultural maintenance of indigenous peoples. During operation of raw-materials-based projects, capital intensity creates few high-wage jobs & out-of-region spending, which contributes little to reducing under- & unemployment; further, capital-intensive operations impact local & regional social stratification, production value, & local-input purchasing linkages. In general, a globalizing effect has occurred in the four communities based on increased linkages to the outside world, yielding some positive, but more negative, consequences.