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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"¡Chalinas a 20 Pesos!": Economic Ideas Developed Through Children's Strategies for Successful Selling In Oaxaca, Mexico
by Sitabkhan, Yasmin Abdul, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2012, 69; 3555934
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the economic ideas of indigenous Triqui children between the ages of 5-15 who sell artisanal goods in Oaxaca, Mexico. I report findings from two studies that investigated (1) sellers' strategies for successfully selling goods, and (2) children's economic ideas linked to their selling strategies.

In Study 1, I documented two recurrent problems that sellers found themselves in and the selling strategies they used to solve these problems through observations, home visits, shadowing of sellers, and interviews. The recurrent problems were (1) how to convince a customer to purchase a good, and (2) how to interact with a customer that attempted to bargain. Sellers used sales pitches as solutions to these predicaments, where they attempted to convince the customer to purchase the good at the stated price by emphasizing different aspects of the goods. Some sales pitches emphasized the currency price of the good, others emphasized the quality/esthetic of the good, and yet others emphasized the utility of the good.

To better understand links between seller's engagement in recurrent problems and their developing economic ideas, I conducted systematic interviews with sellers (n=29) in Study 2. I sought to characterize children's economic ideas of exchange value (the value of goods in an exchange) and price setting through interview tasks involving fictional bartering and currency trades. I contrasted sellers' responses on the interview tasks with those of an age-matched control group of non-sellers (n=15). Findings revealed that sellers used price to determine the exchange value of goods more frequently than non-sellers. In contrast, some non-sellers assessed the exchange value of goods by referring to their own individual wants and needs, where goods were things to "own", not things to "sell", and therefore may not necessarily have a currency value. Sellers also revealed ideas about price setting that were based on rudimentary notions of profit.

This study made visible the knowledge that a historically non-dominant group of children develop, and thus contributes to literature that seeks to provide an alternative to deficit models through investigation of development in non-traditional contexts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Saxe, Geoffrey B.
Commitee: Nasir, Na'ilah, Peng, Kaiping
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Elementary education, Educational psychology, Social studies education, Native American studies
Keywords: Development, Economics, Informal economy, Mathematics, Mexico, Oaxaca, Out-of-school, Selling, Sociocultural
Publication Number: 3555934
ISBN: 978-1-267-97551-5
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