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This book, a joint publication with the Center for Orang Asli Concerns, Malaysia, provides an illustration of the impact of capitalism and modernity on an indigenous people, the Semai of Malaysia. It is based on doctoral research conducted in the early 1980s which documents in considerable ethnographic detail the extent of involvement of the Semai in commodity production and wage labor and the effects of these economic pursuits on their social and cultural lives. In the process, the study challenges the prevailing view of the Semai as subsistence-oriented people with weak links to the market economy, and it stresses the fact that development for the people must be based on correct conceptions of the economy of the people for it to succeed in improving the living standards of the beneficiaries. While the study was conducted about twenty years ago, the findings are still relevant today. An introduction and a postscript to the original thesis provide an update to the theoretical and empirical aspects of the study.
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