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Urban dimensions in rural livelihoods: Implications for grassroots development and sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon.

Barbanti, Olympio, Jr (1999) Urban dimensions in rural livelihoods: Implications for grassroots development and sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Analyses of development in the Brazilian Amazon have concentrated largely on two frameworks. Modernisation approaches interpret the issue in terms of an urban sector irradiating progress into the rural, and have informed most official intervention policy in the region, as was the case with development poles and infrastructure building. Marxist-based frameworks, which have filled most of the literature and inspired the action of social movements and non-governmental organisations, focus on the perverse impacts of capitalist penetration of the countryside. These organisations tend to influence the process of agricultural transition by providing a variable combination of both poverty alleviation welfare-type assistance as well as the means for improving social and political participation through empowerment. In both modernisation and Marxist frameworks, however, "rural" and "urban" appear as totally separate sectors, and therefore the relationships established by rural people in urban areas, and vice-versa, are not scrutinised. From the end of the 1980s, actor-oriented research gained momentum and helped to reveal diversity in local development circumstances. This thesis aims at contributing to the analysis of diversity by highlighting the importance of urban dimensions in the livelihoods of rural producers. This study shows that some 61 per cent of the Legal Amazonian population is now urban, and argues that in today's Amazonia one can not address rural development properly if rural-urban linkages are not taken into account. It is also argued that the interactions maintained by peasants with urban areas allow for the strengthening and diversification of their sources of livelihood. This phenomenon challenges the view of peasants as exclusively subsumed to capital, but also questions the modernisation view of conflict-free, rural-urban relations. Such improvements in rural livelihoods are possible due to the dynamics of local institutions and capitalism. Having expanded their sources of livelihood into urban areas, rural producers become a target for agencies that support sustainable rural development projects, which seek to finance grassroots movements that can implement income-generating activities in a participatory fashion, free from political coercion. The Frutos do Cerrado, a project supported by the PP-G7 Pilot Programme to Conserve the Brazilian Rain Forest, has been selected as a case study. It is argued that programmes such as the PP-G7 should consider the beneficiaries' capacity to commit themselves and their households to the project's aims, and to examine the compatibility of the project with the urban dimensions present in their livelihoods. Theoretical implications of this analysis concern the weakness of grand theories in adequately explaining the dynamics of livelihood strategies, and the developmental roles played by capital and urban areas in contemporary Amazonia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Latin American Studies, Sustainability
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2865

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