For James Scott, the cornerstone of the 'moral' economy was an attitude of a subsistence and basically risk-averse-peasantry which was elementally geared towards enhancing safety and the reliability of its subsistence [Scott (1976)]. It was the need to be secure and the fear of poverty, he submitted, which explained "... many otherwise anomolous, technical and moral arrangements in peasant society" [op.cit: vii]. Commensurately, all coping strategies were noted to fundamentally incorporate these arrangements. Though Scott's affirmations are based on the analysis of rural Indo-China they also, to a great extent, ring true of many peasant societies of South Asia. The peasantry inhabiting the 'barani' (rainfed agricultural) areas of northern Pakistan provide us with one such example. In the course of ascertaining the impact of the recently massive out-country movements of labour from the region to the oil-producing countries of the Middle East, it was found that here too a similar, and integral, subsistence ethic held sway over the "many otherwise anomolous" structural arrangements of life. The examination, in general, of the out-migrations from "barani" areas [which historically have constituted perhaps, the most effective element of coping strategies of the inhabitants see Darling (1945); Naseem (1981)], and specifically the recent movements to the oil-producing economies is with a view to assessing their ability to-nurture a structural transformation in the sending areas. In so doing this paper will attempt to illustrate the attributes of the subsistence ethic in the 'barani' lands. It is more in the vein of a conceptual presentation although the affirmations are based on surveys of two villages; one in the Punjab and the other in the NWFP. It argues that there is an overriding logic behind the disparate economic actions of the 'barani' dwellers which goes beyond "material" concerns. These diverse actions, though they may not adhere to a concept of a pure 'economic and utilitarian rationality', are rational and essentially dictated by a certain willed order which reflects simultaneously the various (i.e. economic, political, social and cultural) dimensions of a deliberately organised structure of life; 'deliberately organised' so that it can best safeguard the interests of the members of society.