Change in Social Capital – a Case Study of Collective Rice Farming Practice in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
This paper describes how the social capital of rice farmers of the Mekong delta of Vietnam - manifested in the tradition of collective farming practice, changed from the 1940s to 1990s. The reason this collective rice farming had existed for decades, irrespective of critical events that challenged its continuation, was the co-existence of two key factors – high need for collective farming to ensure subsistence, and the availability of a closely knit social network that facilitated the exchange of labor. Despite its longevity, the practice of a cohesive and spontaneous collective farming, particularly in terms of labor exchange and labor participation in farming activities, was not maintained under the influence of agrarian reforms which aimed to improve rural livelihood. Land reform resulted in individual rice farming, making mobilization for spontaneous collective action, at the community level quite challenging. The assessment arose in the context of the need to mobilize collective action for implementation of a Community Trap Barrier System (CTBS), an ecologically-based rodent pest management system. It is concluded that successful restoration of social capital in the form of collective farming practices at the field level may depend on government intervention strategies at both local and national policy levels.
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