1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - Asia-Pacific

  • "Disaster Citizenship" and Opportunities for Transformation: An Urgent Plea for Eco-Social Policies (18 May 2017) | Ayesha Siddiqi
    Avalanches and earthquakes are not simply ‘natural' events but are fundamentally the result of local dynamics of power and privilege that leave people vulnerable in the face of dangerous climatic and geological hazards. Contemporary disaster risk reduction policies therefore need to reimagine the very political system within which such disasters occur, instead of focusing on leaner, meaner technical interventions. This blog posts considers how an eco-social approach to disaster resilience can help deliver transformative outcomes in the long term.
  • Fair Compensation and other Prerequisites to Mining for Development (31 Aug 2015) | Cielo Magno
    This piece challenges conventional approaches to a country’s economic development by suggesting a departure from the mainstream “mining for development” approach. It suggests that mining ventures should follow a set of preconditions that take into account other significant factors such as fair taxing schemes that benefit the state, clear transparency and accountability mechanisms, and an expanded monitoring scheme that covers environmental and social impacts of extractive activities.
  • Biometrics Use for Social Protection Programmes in India Risk Violating Human Rights of the Poor (2 May 2014) | Usha Ramanathan
    Gathering biometric data is beeing marketed as a means to more efficiently and surely deliver services to the poor. However this, and the threat of exclusion from a range of services if a person is not biometrically enrolled, has placed the weight of such projects on the shoulders of the poor. This think piece explores the technical limitations of biometric data gathering for social protection purposes and the impact on human rights and the privacy of the poor.
  • How to Upscale your Social Economy into a Trillion Dollar Global Market. The Convergence Paradox of Islamic Finance (1 May 2014) | Aaron Z. Pitluck
    The contemporary Islamic banking and finance industry provides a radical critique of finance as currently practiced. In spite of this moral stance, Islamic finance has expanded in a few short decades into a trillion dollar global market. Perhaps surprisingly, many Islamic finance products have converged in both quality and price with their conventional counterparts so that they have become outwardly identical. This convergence paradox has led critics to accuse banks of cynically marketing conventional financial products as Islamic.This research paints a subtler story. I have identified four social mechanisms that have contributed not only to Islamic finance’s economic upscaling, but have also contributed to its rapid convergence with the conventional sector. For proponents of social and solidarity economies, Islamic finance is an instructive cautionary tale of how to use the engine of capitalist innovation to upscale rapidly.
  • Protecting the Right of Access to Social Security Benefits (15 Apr 2014) | Stephen Kidd
    The easiest means of ensuring the right to social security is through universal coverage (and adequate transfer values). If countries are unable to provide universal coverage because of limited resources, there is implicitly a trade-off: Reducing coverage means increasing administrative costs. In addition, when priority is given to cost-saving in both coverage and administration, a commitment to human rights is jeopardized. This commentary explores ways for social security schemes to nevertheless respect international human rights obligations.
  • Engaging with the Social Economy in Aboriginal Australia: The Experience of Eastern Kuku Yalanji Social Entrepreneurs (18 Jun 2013) | Helen Murphy, Marilyn Wallace
    Examining alternative models for economic development is crucial for Australian Aboriginal communities seeking a diversity of development outcomes. The experience of Aboriginal social entrepreneurs in Cape York shows that there is a need for policy makers to better understand local conditions and economies, as well as the wider institutional framework to better enable Aboriginal social economy participation.
  • Are Mental Models Shaping SSE Reality? Conceptualizing, Measuring and Evaluating SSE Performance (10 Apr 2013) | Benjamin R. Quiñones
    Using the results of action research conducted by the author, this think piece explains the potential and limits of a tool for conceptualizing, measuring, and evaluating SSE performance, based on a common understanding of SSE indicators. Upon determination of strategic dimensions of a shared vision of SSE, an evaluation tool was developed by constructing indicators for each dimension and providing a performance scorecard. The Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) pilot tested the evaluation tool on a limited scale of 15 case studies: nine from Indonesia, five from the Philippines and one from Cambodia. The action research illustrated the usefulness of supply chain analysis in SSE performance evaluation and its advantages over the individual enterprise method of analysis. But the evaluation tool could still be improved. ASEC welcomes the collaboration of other organizations and networks in extending the action research to other countries.
  • Let’s “Do-It-Ourselves”: Building a Participatory Economy in South Asia (9 Apr 2013) | Bryn Gay, Chatrini Weeratunge
    The think piece examines principles of the participatory economy (“parecon”, including fair trade and collective rights) to envision a social-justice-based framework that addresses the shortcomings of the current capitalist trading system, which largely excludes small-scale producers. Expansion of parecon relies on worker solidarity and shared, socially responsible values along the supply chain. Women producers play integral roles in sustaining agriculture, ensuring food security for their families and communities, and strengthening solidarity for a participatory economy. Initiatives from Sri Lanka and India offer evidence of the creation of parecon producer networks, yet further efforts could enhance women’s inclusion.
  • Can Female Entrepreneurship Programmes Support Social and Solidarity Economy? Insights from China and India (26 Mar 2013) | Tonia Warnecke
    Increases in overall female entrepreneurship do not guarantee improvements in women’s socioeconomic status; much depends on whether the entrepreneurship is based on opportunity or necessity. In countries like China and India, women tend to be necessity entrepreneurs in the informal sector, with lower income and little potential for career advancement. While these countries have devoted significant resources toward programmes aiming to increase female entrepreneurship, not all of these programmes support opportunity entrepreneurship. An even larger question is whether these programmes support or challenge Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). In addition to solidarity microfinance schemes around the world, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) programmes in India show that entrepreneurship programmes can support individual development while also fostering community solidarity and democratization of the economy.
  • Solidarity Economy Initiatives from the Ground Up: What can we Learn from the Women Home-based Workers of Southeast Asia? (11 Mar 2013) | Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo
    What can the most invisible and marginalized of women workers contribute to the discourse on solidarity economy based on their concrete experiences over time? This question acquires significance in the light of the combined financial, economic, and environmental crises coupled with the increasing incidence of disasters in Southeast Asia. These have led to massive job losses in many parts of the subregion. In response to these events, home-based workers’ organizations and networks have risen to the challenge by developing solidarity economy initiatives, with varying results, potential and limitations based on specific national and local contexts.
  • Economic Ideals: Gandhian and Neoliberal Logics in India (26 Feb 2013) | Babita Bhatt, Israr Qureshi, Samer Abdelnour
    Social and solidarity economies differ greatly in terms of their underlying logics – the values, beliefs, rules and material practices by which people and communities reproduce their social realities (Thornton and Ocasio, 1999). The significance of social economy logics should not be underestimated: while economic activities may appear similar in form, differences in the underlying logics can lead to stark differences in enterprise models and socioeconomic outcomes. In the case of India, we find a diversity of enterprise logics: some are underpinned by longstanding political and sociocultural hierarchies while others follow Western-centric norms and values. In this think piece we consider two broad types of enterprise model: Gandhian (sarvodaya) and Western (neoliberal). These models have influenced the nature of much economic activity occurring in India today. As such, they provide a revealing starting point for investigating variations in social and solidarity economic activity and outcomes.
  • The Social Side of Biofuels in Brazil, India and Indonesia (20 Jul 2012) | Mairon Bastos Lima
    The move away from fossil fuels towards cleaner fuels such as biofuels has been seen by some countries as an opportunity to both increase energy self-reliance and create an additional market for agriculture. However, the social implications remain understudied. This think piece, based on extensive field work in Brazil, India and Indonesia, looks at what this process means for social equity, especially for vulnerable groups, and whether biofuels could be an effective way to tackle rural poverty.
  • Transforming Extractive Industries in the Philippines: Locating Spaces for People’s Participation in Mining Policies (31 May 2012) | Marie Joyce Godio
    Many in the Philippines consider mining an important industry that generates employment, taxes and foreign exchange earnings. But such economic potential is not translating into the well-being of local communities. More often than not, resource extraction is associated with social conflict and environmental degradation. The 1995 Philippine Mining Code requires environmental monitoring and includes provisions for public consultation. According to the author, however, these processes are often mired in corruption; a lack of transparency and consultation means that the communities most affected are deprived of their right to determine how best to use their resources and the freedom to define their own development.
  • The Challenge of Political Empowerment (24 Mar 2012) | Peter Utting
    In the struggle over ideas in the development arena, terms that are associated with more radical perspectives are often picked up by mainstream actors and organisations. And this has been the case with ‘empowerment’. But such mainstreaming can cause original meanings to be modified or become obscure. From the perspective of strategies that aim to improve the well-being of small-scale farmers, there are various risks inherent in the way the term ‘empowerment’ has been taken up by international and bilateral development agencies.
  • Green Growth, Social Agency and the Regulation of Agricultural Production in India and Brazil (10 Feb 2012) | Diego Vazquez-Brust, Evelyn Nava-Fischer
    Green growth is being promoted as a new paradigm that encompasses economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. However, some developing countries have been questioning its relevance for their development. This paper shows how this paradigm is challenging, and being challenged by, traditional social norms and practices in agricultural production in India and Brazil, and how the commitment and agency of supply chain actors—both of which are key for resource efficiency and social inclusion—are affected.
  • Green Economy and Beyond – Case Studies in Guangzhou, China (31 Jan 2012) | Chen Jinjin
    China's rapid economic growth has led to a gap between urban and rural development, environmental pollution and the marginalization of traditional farming. Two cases in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, southern China—a government programme and a non-governmental initiative—show how the local government and the public are trying to connect the green economy agenda with other sustainable development objectives, including poverty reduction, food security and social protection.