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Review material you already have gained about products obtained through agriculture, gathering, hunting, fishing, crafts, etc.

How do goods from another area arrive in your village or town–by truck, by plane, by bicycle, etc.? How are goods and produce from your area transported to market? Is this done by the producer or by a middleman?

Which of these are sold or traded to other villagers or neighborhood residents? Which and what amounts are sold or traded outside the area? To those of the same ethnic group or to those of a different group? Are the products sold directly to consumers or sold to middlemen?

Which items come from other villagers and which from outsiders? Do traders bring wares to the neighborhood, or do people make their purchases in town?

Chart out the economic relationships existing between your village or town and:

(1)    traders – who are they and what do they buy or sell?

(2)    other villages and towns in the area – does another town have goods that are not available in yours? How far does one have to travel to the next town or city?

(3)    a major city – is transport readily available? Is the trip a hassle or a fun occasion? Is it for the purpose of selling or buying? Is the trip usually successful?

(4)    international export – are products manufactured or grown in your area sold internationally? Are products from another country readily available where you live? Are such products desired by the local people?

What range of prices would various types of items be sold for? What has been the rate of inflation over the past two years? Have wages kept up with the cost of living?

How are business transactions conducted? Is there a sex differentiation in terms of commerce or services rendered?

Are items sold or bought for cash or credit? Who are the moneylenders? What are the terms of such a loan (time, interest rate, guarantee, etc.)? Are there pawn shops? What is the rate of indebtedness in the village? What happens when debts are not or cannot be repaid?

From whom can one borrow tools or articles? Is an item returned to the owner or must he go for it when he needs it?

Do people hire themselves out for wages? In the village? Outside the village? Is there a steady migration of people from rural areas into town seeking work? From what areas or ethnic groups do they come? What kind of work, if any, can they obtain?

Are outsiders hired by villagers? To which ethnic groups do they belong, what work do they do, and what are they paid?


Are newspapers available? In what languages? Who reads the newspapers? Are there special sections for different interest groups? What about magazines? Is there a variety, or is the choice limited? Are newspapers and magazines shared around the neighborhood? Where does one get newspapers and magazines? in a store, or are they delivered to the door? Find out what the subscription prices are for a few of these publications.

Is the news heavily slanted toward one viewpoint? Is the news government controlled or is there scope for dissent and idea sharing? Is there punishment for dissent?

Is there a library accessible to the public? What kinds of services does the library offer? Does one need a card to take out books, DVDs, etc.? Does the library offer educational programs? Who can attend these? Is membership mandatory?

Do schoolchildren have access to textbooks? Are these of good quality? Are they expensive? Are they passed down from child to child within a family? Are textbook publishers run by the government, or are they owned and run by private companies?


How do the local people communicate with one another? How common is the use of iPods, tablets, smart phones? How up-to-date with modern technology is the common person? the younger generation?

How proficient are they with texting? Are there prohibitions on texting as to where it can be done or can’t be done?

How many people own personal computers?

  • In what way do they use them (educational use, research, e-mail, business, buying tickets to events, etc.)?
  • How expensive is it to buy a computer?
  • What brands are available?
  • How can it be repaired? Is there a high incidence of “crashing?”

How widely used are social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)?

  • By all, or mostly by the younger generation?
  • What local or national social media is available?
  • What purposes does social media fulfill in society?

Do people use Internet Cafes? How “safe” are they? How crowded are they? Can they use a computer any time or is there a waiting list? a sign-up sheet?

For e-mail and the Internet, what service providers operate in the country? Is one preferred over another? Why? How does one open an account? How expensive is it and how is it paid for?



  • How far is the closest market or store where you can buy fruit and vegetables? meat? flour and sugar?
  • Find out how food items are sold—by the pound? by the dozen? by the kilo? by some other measure? Think of eggs, milk and other dairy products as well as meat, vegetables, and fruit. How are items packaged?
  • Are there supermarkets where everything is under one roof, or do you have to go to different stores for food items? Is there a farmers’ market with many vendors offering their produce or products? Is fresh produce sold in a different store than dry goods like flour and sugar?
  • Do you have to bring your own bags or are bags provided to carry your purchases home?
  • Are prices fixed or is there room to bargain? Does the type of shop determine this, as a kiosk on the street, an open shop, or a shop with an entry door? How is bargaining done?

For other items needed generally

Note: Going to a mall or to another central location for “fun” shopping will be covered in another assignment.

  • Do these same stores offer stationery items? textbooks? clothing? tablecloths? crockery? If not, where can you buy these types of things? How far are these stores? Are some of them locally run or are some run by a chain? Are the chain stores nationally run or from outside the country?
  • How are items packaged? Are some items sold separately and others packaged? Which ones?
  • Do stores selling the same thing tend to group together or are they scattered around the city? How many specialty stores, like department stores, hardware stores, or automotive stores are in your area? Do you have a choice or are your options limited?
  • Inquire as to what items can be bought at the hardware store in your area? the variety store? the department store? the medicine shop? the stationers? What are these shops called?



What objects are carried rather than transported in another way? How are they carried (baskets, plastic bags, in the arms or hands, slung in a cloth, in a suitcase, on the head)?

What are the cultural expectations as to the type of receptacle that a child, a man, a woman, an elderly person might use or not?

  • What kinds of “stuff” would local people expect people to be carrying?
  • What kinds of things are unusual for them to carry?
  • What would be expected of you as a foreigner?

Does the length of time items need to be carried determine the way they are carried?

Get the terms for the different methods of carrying (on the head, by the handle, with a carrying pole, under the arm, slung between two people, etc.).

Other transport

What other methods are used to transport items from one place to another? Are these specific to different geographical areas? different ethnic groups? gender-specific?

How much cooperation is involved in their use?

  • Are these privately owned and used?
  • Can they be borrowed if needed?
  • Are some available for public use?
  • Who owns them?
  • What is the fee charged for their use?

Learn the names of the various contrivances. Are these ones you can use? If so, find out how you can access them.

Are there certain times during the day when particular things are likely to be carried? Is there a peak time when demand is high for transporting of goods?

Listen for the greetings or questions used when people or drivers pass each other on the way or as they enter or leave the village or building. Observe expressions and body language as well.


You have already noted what types of transportation are available in your neighborhood. Now it is time to investigate further!

Local transportation

Within the area where you live, what is the primary type of transportation used by the local people (private cars, buses, trains, motor scooters, bicycles, rickshaws, ox-cart, trams, etc.)?

How accessible are the motorized types of transport? Do you need to go to special taxi stands or bus and tram terminals, or can a person flag one down?

Do these run on a schedule? If so, where are schedules available? How close to schedule do they run?

How much does a ride cost? Do you need to buy a ticket or can you pay after boarding? Do you need exact change?

Private vehicles

How generous are owners of their own vehicle in sharing rides? How much payment is expected? How easy is it to borrow a vehicle for a time? What is the borrower’s responsibility if there is any damage?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using private rather than public transport? How accessible are repair and maintenance garages?

Where are petrol stations located? Are there other options other than petrol for running a car? Where do these filling stations exist? What is the cost of petrol? of alternate fuel?

Long-distance travel

Do people travel long distances often? Are there some people in your neighborhood that have never traveled outside of their immediate area? Why do people make long trips? Where are long-distance transport stations? How far is this from your neighborhood? How do people get there? Where are tickets available? Can you buy one in advance? How far can one travel without having to make a transfer? Plot your travel options in order to go from your house to a specific location in your capital city. Investigate everything, from buying your ticket to taking a taxi to your destination.

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