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New Book: Civil Society and the Market Question: Dynamics of Rural Development and Popular Mobilization

12 Sep 2005

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Neoliberal reforms often rely on civil society playing an active role in development projects and service delivery. This has often led to a groundswell of civil society opinion and activism against structural adjustment programmes, policies to privatize public services and liberalize the agricultural sector, and the increasing dominance of TNCs and lending institutions. In light of (and, at times, in lieu of) weakened states, many civil society organizations have sought to directly influence market outcomes in favour of the poor and to blunt their negative thrust.

The work brings out the heterogeneous and ambiguous character of civil society positions and responses to market reforms in agriculture. “Market advocates” support market-based economic activities and welfare in rural development; “market sceptics” express misgivings about the possibility that the market mechanism can resolve rural poverty and inequality, but are, at the same time, prepared to collaborate with mainstream development institutions; and “market opponents” try actively to oppose such institutions and construct radical alternatives. Crucially, this volume finds, none of these perspectives seems able to significantly influence the philosophy and functioning of the market.

Nonetheless, the volume also argues that forceful and unrelenting social mobilization within civil society is crucial to giving added voice to peasant producers and rural workers, as well as raising the visibility of their condition and proposing potential solutions. Many of the challenges to “the market” will be waged outside “the market” itself, and will involve high levels of self-organization among the rural populations and coalitions that go beyond rural societies themselves.

Contents
Markets and Civil Society in Rural Transformation: An Overview of Principal Issues, Trends and Outcomes, K.B. Ghimire
Social Movements, the State and the Experience of Market-led Agrarian Reform in Brazil, L. Servolo de Medeiros
Colombian Countryside between Privileges of Latifundistas, Modernizing Authoritarianism and Peasant Repression, S. Suhner
The Dynamics of Market-led Rural Development in Latin America: The Experience of Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, H. Veltmeyer
The Ability of Civil Society Groups to Influence the Debate on the Role of the Market in Rural Asset Building and Redistribution in East Africa, N. Bazaara
Crisis of Rural Livelihoods, Economic Reforms and Civil Society in Egypt, R. Bush
The Farmers’ Movement and the Market Question in Senegal, N. McKeon
Markets, Land Redistribution and Rural Social Movements in the Philippines, S.M. Borras Jr.
Rural Power Structures and Evolving Market Forces in Bangladesh, M. Mannan
Social Movements, Rural Poverty and Markets: The Case of India, N. Webster

K.B. Ghimire is Research Cooordinator at UNRISD.

Civil Society and the Market Question: Dynamics of Rural Development and Popular Mobilization is copublished with Palgrave Macmillan; hardback, ISBN 1-4039-4915-8, 376 pages, 2005, £60.

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