ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Glyn WilliamsSubscribe to Glyn Williams

Making Social Science Matter - II

Part I of this paper, which appeared last week, described the patterns of participation of the rural poor in state-sponsored schemes and the characteristics of political society in each of the blocks and districts studied. It also provided evidence on the scale and significane of rent-seeking behaviour, and a preliminary mapping of what has been called 'the anthropology of the everyday state'. We turn now to a discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from our 'academic' research. This project involved the research team in a prolonged dialogue with different groups of actors in Malda and Bhojpur districts that we had identified as 'failing' districts from the point of view of effective pro-poor governance. We comment briefly on the background to this research and describe how we organised the action research process before proceeding to present the main findings of the workshops that we held in these two districts. These findings speak of the ways in which different groups of stakeholders, and members of the rural poor most especially, see the state in Bhojpur and Malda and how they would like to see certain practices of the state abolished, extended or reformed.

Making Social Science Matter - I

The state in its efforts to meet the needs of the poor has four major functions of governance - developmental, empowermental, protective and disciplinary. This paper, based on fieldwork across the rural areas in three states, probes the Employment Assurance Scheme to understand the state's performance on these parameters as well as aspects of participation, governance and political society. What is revealed is the complexity and divergence of state action - conflicts within and between different agencies of the state, as also the challenges posed to these agencies by civil and political society groups. Also clear is that the participation of the poor in development programmes cannot easily be stepped up in the absence of supporting actors in political society. Part I of the paper presents the initial findings as they relate to the development and empowerment functions of the state. Part II, to be published next week, will develop the argument further through discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from the authors' 'academic' research.
Back to Top