Small Farmer Entrepreneurs and Direct Markets: Negotiating Structure and Agency at City Markets in Asunción, Paraguay

Culver, Leah
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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates Paraguayan small farmer entrepreneurs (SFEs) who sell their products at city markets throughout Asunción, Paraguay and the actions that SFEs take to increase their presence throughout these markets. Engaging with anthropological theories of agency and structure and exploring conceptual frameworks of political ecology, it examines broader political, economic, social, and environmental structures in which Paraguayan SFEs are embedded. By examining roles that more powerful actors play in the everyday lives of SFEs, I show how, despite powerful actors, farmers are still able to demonstrate agency, power, and economic rational over their own production. Through semi-structured interviews with SFEs at three city markets throughout Asunción, this thesis investigates the ways that SFEs demonstrate agency through four main avenues – alternative agriculture, niche markets, specialty products, and social capital to strengthen their farming businesses.

Small Farmer Entrepreneurs, Paraguay, Asunción, Agency, Structure, Political Ecology, Actor-oriented Approach, Farming, Food Production, Farmers' Markets, Open-air Markets, Urban Markets, Food Markets, Alternative Agriculture, Niche Markets, Agriculture, Latin America, Social Capital, Farmers, Small-scale Farmers