Contested Paradigms of 'Viability' in Redistributive Land Reform: Perspectives from Southern Africa
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The origins of the hegemonic, ‘large-scale commercial farm’ version of viability and its influence on policy debates on land redistribution in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe is located in the context of competing analytical paradigms for assessing land reform: neo-classical economics, new institutional economics, livelihoods approaches, welfarist perspectives, radical political economy and Marxism. However, in this paper we propose an approach to thinking about viability that draws on key insights from different frameworks, and we use these to suggest what a re-casting of the debate might imply for policy and practice in southern Africa today. Key recommendations include that: an expanded and more diverse set of measures of viability than those used in the past is required; analysts and policy makers should be encouraged to make explicit their framing assumptions, underlying values and larger policy goals when assessing or advocating alternative policy options for redistributive land reform; and that bringing a wider array of perspectives into the picture, and making explicit the different assumptions, political orientation and methodologies for assessment implied by each, could contribute to a more effective and coherent public debate about land reform policies.
CitationCousins, B. and Scoones, I. (2009) Contested Paradigms of 'Viability' in Redistributive Land Reform: Perspectives from Southern Africa, Working Paper 15, Cape Town: PLAAS
Is part of seriesWorking paper for Livelihoods after Land Reform Project 7
- Urban/Rural