The Maisin rely on their environment to appease their fundamental needs.
Most of their time is spent on obtaining food. Work is regulated based on gender, women work on endeavours that require more steady effort. Whereas men predominantly take on jobs that necessitate instances of heavy work. Swidden horticulture is the main method of acquiring food as most food comes from their gardens. Gardens serve way more than just to produce food, they are also spiritual areas where the Maisin develop and connect to their ancestors.
They additionally serve as the centres of economy and politics. Reciprocity is the most essential and important rule of Maisin’s lives, creating the ethical infrastructure of economic and social order. Social distance determines the type of reciprocity carried out. The closer the social distance between the two parties the more indifferent the exchange is, as social distance enlarges, exchanges end up more calculated and formal. There has been an escalating dependance on money since its introduction and has sourced complex effects on the Maisin. In conjecture, there is a dispute between the traditional economic system ultimately based on the exchange of goods as well as labour, and the new system in which money obtains both as material.
Nevertheless, for now the Maisin have used money to support the lasting continuation of the subsistence economy based on a Kin and interchange relations where reciprocity exists as the main concept. (Barker, 2016) When analyzing the cultural traditions and ultimately the ways of individuals within different societies, the convention in an Anthropological sense is to segregate the many societies into four models of subsistence; Foraging, sometimes known as hunting and gathering, describes societies that rely primarily on “wild” plant and animal food resources. Pastoralism is a subsistence system in which people raise herds of domesticated livestock. Horticulture is the small- scale cultivation of crops intended primarily for subsistence. Agriculture, the subsistence system used in the United States, involves the cultivation of domesticated plants and animals using technologies that allow for intensive use of the land. (Shearn, 2017:1)In this case we can see that the Maisin and their gardens as as well as the economic and sociological aspects of their culture as described above would fit into the Horticulture and Pastoralism categories. It is also evident that the Maisin – as gathered from what Baker had stated in chapter 2 of the novel- are a culture that include jobs in which are based on obtaining food. “Foodways: the cultural norms and attitudes surrounding food and eating”(Shearn, 2017: 20).
After reading about the subsistence of the Maisin and how they make a living, the thought of money and western commodities eventually leading to the demise of reciprocity is an concept that forces me to want more information on. (Barker, 2016). At the moment bakers field study took place, the Maisin had appeared to find a way in which they could integrate the western elements into their system while keeping reciprocity the foundation of their lives. Individuals are evidently aware and okay with the income gap within the community.
Trading now is also less frequent and less intense then it was in the 1980s (Barker, 2016). Many individuals who earn money are often found to hold their funds in a savings account. This can be considered a disruption to the commitment of exchanging a gift, as wealth can technically be accumulated out of sight. When thinking about the question above, I truly believe that reciprocity will remain an important truth to that of the Maisin but its positive will inevitably end up decreasing.