Rural maquilas in Guatemala export apparel assembled by a labor force of mainly young, unmarried females. The dynamic of young women working in non-traditional roles allows for the examination of contradictions of modernity. The maquilas allow young women to work and support their families in financial struggles. Traditionally, Mayan people relied on crops grown on milpas for subsistence, but because of the importation of corn and beans from the United States (Green 2003). Mayans are forced to explore non-traditional incomes. Modernization affects the identity and culture of the young women working in maquilas.
The story Green tells about Martina, the young factory worker who asked for a hot dog instead of tamale shows the complexity of gender and culture. She works and helps to support her family. Martina is one of her mother’s twelve children. She is repulsed by the food her mother has prepared. The generational difference between Martina and her mother is caused by different experiences. Popular culture has an effect on Mayan youth’s social identity. They are constantly exposed to a modern world that criticizes tradition, but at the same time the young women spend their money on the traditional Mayan dresses. Their social world is complex and filled with contradiction. The world economy’s impact on families in Guatemala shows that the benefits of modernization are unequal and have an impact on production sites around the globe.