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Current development discourse on poverty reduction mainly emphasises the respective roles of the state and the market. This book argues, via a series of original fieldwork investigations, for the importance of exploring and understanding the poor's own actions. These actions may seek to change their poverty directly. Or the poor may seek to effect change with respect to the formulation and implementation of public policy. The notion of political space is critical to understanding the possibility and potential for such actions for poverty reduction. The authors develop a concept of political space comprising institutional channels for accessing policy formulation, the content of political discourse, the degree to which it emphasises poverty as an issue, and the skill and strategies of the poor themselves. They demonstrate that the relationships between the actions of the poor and the organisations and institutions of the political arena are neither simple nor predictable.
Instead the studies in this volume detail the the complex realities of political agency of the poor, the strategic use of discourse, the limits of institutional reform, the contested nature of poverty reduction, and the significance of political space for challenging conditions of marginalisation.
Neil Webster is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Development Research and Co-ordinator for the programme Local Organizations and Rural Poverty Alleviation. He has undertaken research on rural development in India for more than 20 years. His publications include: Do the Poor Matter? A Comparative Study of European Aid for Poverty Reduction in India. Lars Engberg-Pedersen is head of the International Department in the Danish Association of International Cooperation (MS). He has carried out fieldwork in Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Indonesia and Karnataka, India. His publications include work on institutional change, rural development and natural resource management.
*1. Introduction to Political Space - Neil Webster and Lars Engberg-Pedersen*2. Reading the Bolivian Landscape of Exclusion and Inclusion: The Law of Popular Participation - Anne Marie Ejdesgaard Jeppesen*3. The Vicissitudes of Politics and the Resilience of the Peasantry: The Contestation and Reconfiguration of Political Space in the Peruvian Andes - Karsten Paerregaard*4. Voice and Representation of the 'Poor': The Struggle over Government Aid in Western Mexico - Magdalena Villarreal*5. Ambiguous Political Space: Chiefs, Land and the Poor in Rural Mozambique - Astrid Blom 6. Speaking with Space: Displacements and Claims in the Politics of Land in Zimbabwe - Amanda J. Hammar*7. The Limitation of Political Space in Burkino Faso: Local Organizations, Decentralization and Poverty Reduction - Lars Engberg-Pedersen*8. Where Local Organizations do not work: Problems of Poverty Reduction in Tamil Nadu, India - D. Rajesekhar*9. Local Institutions in Bangladesh: An Analysis of Civil Society and Local Elections - Kirsten Westergaard and Abul Hossain*10. Local Organisations and Political Space in the Forests of West Bengal - Neil Webster*11. Political Agencies and Spaces - Neil Webster and Lars Engberg-Pedersen
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