An analytical approach to rural decision-making interim research report
Johnson, Steven L.
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This paper discusses the theoretical foundations and research methodology of a study of decision-making currently being conducted in a portion of Migori Division, Kenya. Drawing upon concepts from the literature of social exchange and “formal” economic anthropology, the study will provide an analysis of agriculturalists decisions as they concern the production, exchange, and consumption of both material and social values in a rural, non-industrialized context. Central to this approach is the hypothesis that rational decisions are based not only on material, but also on social advantage. The aggrandizing of social values therefore becomes a necessary part of an economic analysis, because what may seem rational in material terms may be irrational when juxtaposed with considerations of social value. In other words, the study recognizes a need to supplement purely economic data with relevant social data in order to produce more adequate analyses of agriculturalists' responses to incentives or economic alternatives presented to them by outside agents. The theoretical and methodological discussions are followed by a description of the research locale and population. In addition, results of a preliminary survey of the area are presented in order to convey to the reader some general characteristics of the region.