Browsing by Subject "development Studies"

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  • Steiler, Ilona (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis is concerned with the content, context and consequences of conceptions and representations of the ‘informal economy’. The central argument is that the ‘informal economy’ presents a political and social, normative and essentially contested concept that has real (discursive, material, social) effects on current transformations of the world of work and of social order. ‘Informal economy’, as concept and imaginary, is central to formalization and informalization which are here primarily understood as discursive and political processes. The discussion engages with the perennial dispute in academia and policy-making over whether the ‘informal economy’ presents a relic of underdevelopment, a paragon of ingenious economic activity, the last resort for survival amidst capitalist accumulation processes or a community-based alternative to capitalist economic organization. At their fundament, these competing perspectives are divided over the appropriate role of the state in governing the economy. Political discourses along these lines, in turn, impact on the configuration of state governance and societal organization. The analysis builds on insights from interviews and participant observation from six months of research work in 2014-2016 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and on a review of the research literature. It presents a multidisciplinary effort, bringing together development studies, political economy and labour law to discuss the use(s) of the concept in the two dissimilar sectors of street trade and domestic work. Drawing on the discursive analytical strategies of Reinhart Koselleck and the Cultural Political Economy perspective as well as the framework of intersectionality, the study illustrates how, in Tanzania, ‘informal’ work is legally, socially and discursively constituted in dissimilar ways in small-scale trade and domestic work. Rather than a clearly definable or fixed category, informality of work is relative and relational; it intersects with post-colonial trajectories, class, gender, race and ethnicity, age, family status, income and education levels, as well as workers’ visibility in public and private workplaces. Competing conceptions of the ‘informal economy’ steer transformations in three interrelated thematic fields: labour power and organization, the promotion of rights and responsibilities, and relations between the state, market and society. Legislation and policies concerning the two sectors exemplify neoliberal and structuralist-oriented approaches. In each sector, legislation, rights discourses and state policies follow specific agendas, thereby not only influencing the dividing line between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ economic activities, but also shaping societal organization across the formal-informal divide. Legislation enables and disables labour struggles in the respective sectors; rights discourses promote access to different kinds of rights for different groups; urban and formalization policies determine which groups have access to public space, formal frameworks and legal protection. While the findings of this study confirm the structuralist perspective on the ‘informal economy’ as primarily a domain of survivalist struggles, in recent decades, neoliberal conceptions have been influential, particularly with regard to street trade. This has had harmful consequences for the most disadvantaged groups among street traders. However, the neoliberal discourse is challenged in the sector of domestic work as well as at the nodes between global discourses and the particularities of everyday Tanzanian labour relations.
  • Paksi, Attila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    In the last three decades, southern African governments and non-profit organizations, following the narrative of poverty alleviation and integrated rural development, have initiated a variety of development interventions targeting the hunter-gatherer San people. Despite these interventions, the southern African San groups, like many other Indigenous Peoples, remained economically, politically, and socially marginalized. In this doctoral dissertation, I have examined how such interventions have impacted on the contemporary livelihoods of a Namibian San group, the Khwe San. Based on a 15-month-long ethnographic field study with the Khwe community living in the eastern part of Bwabwata National Park (BNP), this thesis is compiled of four peer-reviewed articles and a summarizing report. The summary introduces the background and context of the study, outlines its theoretical and methodological framework, and discusses the main findings presented in the four articles. The study builds on decolonial and post-development research theories and looks at hunters and gatherers through the lens of the ‘foraging mode of thought’ concept. Based on the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework and the notion of community capitals, this study provides a critical analysis of both the practice and impacts of development interventions on local livelihoods and socio-cultural dynamics. The study focuses on three key domains of development interventions affecting contemporary foragers: rural income-generating interventions, protected area management and formal education. The ethnographic fieldwork in BNP was carried out between 2016 and 2018 and involved data collection through participant observation in various settings, as well as semi-structured interviews with local community members and a wide range of other stakeholders. In addition, a study-area-wide socio-economic census was undertaken, and the participatory photography (PhotoVoice) method was used in the case study community. This study shows that the contemporary livelihood strategies of the Khwe San people do not currently provide adequate benefits for maintaining a sound livelihood inside the national park. Restrictions due to strictly-imposed biodiversity conservation regulations limit the options for locally available livelihood activities, while community development projects initiated by external actors to date have been unable to alleviate extreme poverty or provide any substantial benefits. Most projects have failed due to dismissing local cultural, social and economic realities and disregarding proper community consultation and involvement in decision-making. The state’s formal education system, as currently practised, suffers from the same neglect of local cultural characteristics. The standardized curriculum and teaching practices, coupled with the negative stereotyping of San children and parents by the educators, are far from providing a safe and effective learning environment. Despite the above challenges, the findings demonstrate that the social life is still largely governed by principles of egalitarianism, their traditional kinship system, and the practice of sharing. The Khwe San’s traditional knowledge and skills, especially in relation to wild food gathering, still plays an important role in maintaining their livelihoods and contemporary cultural identity. However, Khwe adults and elders regard traditional knowledge far more important than do the youth, and this knowledge transmission is rapidly fading. The study also analysed exemplary initiatives that have provided some positive contributions to Khwe livelihoods. The Devil’s Claw harvesting collaborative project is a leading example of a culturally-responsive initiative contributing to several domains of local well-being, while the recently-established Biocultural Community Protocol is a model community-led legal instrument encompassing customary laws, institutions and crucial building blocks of local identity. The study indicates that further diversification of livelihood options is essential, and should be community-led, culturally inclusive and sustainable. The predominantly externally-driven interventions to date have disempowered the Khwe San and ignored the addressing of fundamental human rights issues. The Khwe and other hunter-gatherer communities now find themselves at a critical time and in need of support to self-strengthen their own capabilities and agency in order to realize self-determination and accomplish long-term positive social change for themselves, their communities, and their future generations.
  • White, Pamela (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Billions of Euros are spent each year on the highly contested subject of development cooperation. Is it the right thing to do, and is it doing any good? It is assumed that carefully crafted policies from donors will be implemented worldwide, regardless of the cultural setting. There is an assumed flow from rational aid policies, to financing aid practice, to aid consequences and impacts, yet none of these steps are certain and uncontested. Little attention is given to the go-betweens, the people and organisations responsible for the practice of development policy. The key question asked within this dissertation is what are the roles, motivations and contribution of individuals and organisations in development cooperation? The overall research questions are grouped into three parts: a) What are the roles and motivations of individuals and the consulting companies working in development cooperation?; b) What contribution can (or should?) these individuals and companies make to translating norms, regulatory frameworks and values into practice in complex operating environments?; and c) What is the role of technical assistance in achieving sustainable and equitable water governance in Nepal? My contention is that the development complex (and development interventions specifically) depends on human agency and capabilities in the form of individuals and organisations – rather than only the transfer of money or technology. This includes the attitudes and motivations of the beneficiaries themselves, the local governments, donor government staff, NGOs and researchers, and the persons involved in the provision of technical assistance. All these groups have the chance to contribute to, or to impede development. These articles drill down particularly to the role of the latter group. These individuals providing technical assistance need to operate within the norms and regulations of the donor and recipient governments, and the local cultures and realities of the countries, local governments and communities they work with. The individuals both influence the group they work with, and in turn are influenced by the group habitus. In this thesis I contend that people at all levels have an important role in the implementation of development cooperation. Staff working in donor and recipient governments, and community level actors are all critical for facilitating or blocking development activities; just as are the technical advisors themselves. All bring in their own motivations, values and incentives. However, I cannot rule out the role of modalities, institutions or cultures as well, as clearly in the case studies the local cultures and institutions (both project imposed and community-based) are constantly interacting with each other and with the individuals involved. In addition, evidence of a habitus among development workers suggests that there is also a significant role for the development ‘culture’. Hence, I operate between methodological individualism and collectivism, with a constructivist approach. In particular, my study is focused on Finnish development cooperation, including Finns working in a variety of roles and modalities, and Nepalese co-workers in my two case study projects. The major approaches and themes regarding technical assistance and development cooperation that emerged in my research included: motivations; habitus; brokerage, translation and bricolage; gender equality and human rights; and principal-agent theory. The research approaches different concepts of technical assistance from many directions. It covers the different individual motivations for working in development, from students of development studies, through people working in many types of role – what I have referred to as the spectrum of technical cooperation. It also analyses the role of consulting companies working in development – a topic rarely studied. Using two Finnish funded rural water management projects in Nepal as case studies, I considered the role of technical assistance in transferring the values and policies of donors and recipient governments into practice. I examine the way that the international and Nepali experts translate the policies into practice, and feed practices and learning back up to the policy setters and donors. This is supported with discussion on operationalising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights in Nepal. And finally, I consider the role of the TA in supporting development of the nascent local governments in Nepal, building their capacities to secure safe water for all. The methodology includes questionnaires, interviews, and two case studies. Development cooperation does not function simply as a financial transfer mechanism. Yet the role of individuals to facilitate implementation is often ignored. Acknowledging the role of individuals in coordination with other stakeholders, in implementing policies and strategies, and adapting them to local realities, would be a critical step in development cooperation in general, and specifically, in water governance and human rights. This is important both for decision-makers and for researchers. Keywords: Technical assistance; development cooperation; water governance; Nepal; gender equality and social inclusion; human rights-based approach; motivations; translation; brokering