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The Political Economy of Agrarian Change: Dinosaur or Phoenix?

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  • Lucia da Corta (QEH)
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    Abstract

    In this paper I argue for the resurrection of the political economy of agrarian change (PEACH) in mainstream policy research in order to understand the deeper causes of poverty and its transformation in rural areas. I critically examine chronic poverty research and argue that in the wake of the devastating critique of PEACH theory, an unlikely combination of post-structural and methodologically individualist new development economics (NDE) theory became hegemonic in development studies throughout the 90s and shaped emergent chronic poverty methodology. As a consequence subsequent chronic poverty empirical research tended to produce results confirming post-PEACH theory - poverty caused by assets based vulnerability experience of poor people and by their exclusion from economies and societies. In order to address the possibility of poverty as a problem of inclusion into economies and societies, chronic poverty research advanced new social relational concepts in the intergenerational transmission of poverty literature (IGT) and in adverse incorporation and social exclusion research (AISE). These and other such critical oppositional thinkers endorse a dynamic, relational transformational approach, one which combines realist structural and interpretive thinking and which coheres with critical realist PEACH methodology. However, they hesitate in fully embracing PEACH concepts - such as capitalist accumulation, class relations and unfreedom - which can shed light on materialist processes of poverty. I argue that the difficulties this body of research confronts in addressing the deeper causes of poverty can be resolved by drawing on PEACH concepts together with critical realist PEACH methods, and that the pluralism that this entails enables much deeper explanations for processes of impoverishment and escape and a wider range of empowering policy responses.

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    File URL: http://www3.qeh.ox.ac.uk/RePEc/qeh/qehwps/qehwps174.pdf
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    Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series QEH Working Papers with number qehwps174.

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    Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps174

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    1. Michelle Adato & Michael Carter & Julian May, 2006. "Exploring poverty traps and social exclusion in South Africa using qualitative and quantitative data," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 226-247.
    2. Bob Baulch & John Hoddinott, 2000. "Economic mobility and poverty dynamics in developing countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 1-24.
    3. Kanbur, Ravi & Shaffer, Paul, 2007. "Epistemology, Normative Theory and Poverty Analysis: Implications for Q-Squared in Practice," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 183-196, February.
    4. D. K. Bagchi & Piers Blaikie & John Cameron & M. Chattopadhyay & N. Gyawali & David Seddon, 1998. "Conceptual and methodological challenges in the study of livelihood trajectories: case-studies in Eastern India and Western Nepal," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 453-468.
    5. Adato, Michelle & Lund, Francie & Mhlongo, Phakama, 2007. "Methodological Innovations in Research on the Dynamics of Poverty: A Longitudinal Study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 247-263, February.
    6. Hulme, David & Shepherd, Andrew, 2003. "Conceptualizing Chronic Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 403-423, March.
    7. Krishna, Anirudh, 2006. "Pathways out of and into poverty in 36 villages of Andhra Pradesh, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 271-288, February.
    8. Stefan Dercon (QEH), . "Vulnerability: a micro perspective," QEH Working Papers qehwps149, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    9. Tony Lawson, 2006. "The nature of heterodox economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 483-505, July.
    10. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1986. "The new development economics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 257-265, February.
    11. Sen, Binayak, 2003. "Drivers of Escape and Descent: Changing Household Fortunes in Rural Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 513-534, March.
    12. Pranab Bardhan & Christopher Udry, 2000. "Readings in Development Economics, Volume I: Micro-Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522829, December.
    13. Michael Carter & Christopher Barrett, 2006. "The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: An asset-based approach," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 178-199.
    14. Green, Maia & Hulme, David, 2005. "From correlates and characteristics to causes: thinking about poverty from a chronic poverty perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 867-879, June.
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