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What is Autonomous Adaption? Resource Scarcity and Smallholder Agency in Thailand

  • Forsyth, Tim
  • Evans, Natalie
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    The concept of autonomous adaptation is widely used to describe spontaneous acts of reducing risks posed by resource scarcity and, increasingly, climate change. Critics, however, have claimed it is unproven, or simplifies the agency by which smallholders respond to risk. This paper presents empirical research in eight Karen villages in Thailand to identify how resource scarcity is linked to adaptive responses including livelihood diversification. The paper argues that autonomous adaptation is driven by how environmental change and scarcity present livelihood risks, rather than physical risks alone. Adaptation planning therefore should acknowledge different experiences of risk, and socio-economic barriers to adaptation.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X12002896
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

    Volume (Year): 43 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 56-66

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:56-66
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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    1. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    2. Ellis, Frank, 2000. "Rural Livelihoods and Diversity in Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296966, March.
    3. Rigg, Jonathan, 2006. "Land, farming, livelihoods, and poverty: Rethinking the links in the Rural South," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 180-202, January.
    4. Solava Ibrahim & Sabina Alkire, 2007. "Agency and Empowerment: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 379-403.
    5. Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
    6. B. Smit & I. Burton & R.J.T. Klein & R. Street, 1999. "The Science of Adaptation: A Framework for Assessment," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 199-213, September.
    7. Ostrom, Elinor, 2009. "A polycentric approach for coping with climate change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5095, The World Bank.
    8. World Bank, 2010. "Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change : Synthesis Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12750, The World Bank.
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