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

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Contrasting Discourses, Conflicting Roles and Policy Implementation

Ethnography of the Forest Guard

For agenda setting and policy design, public policies that involve or affect local communities are often negotiated in the field rather than the office, yet development literature has surprisingly neglected the characteristics, social conditions, perceptions and attitudes of field-level implementers of policy. In the context of Indian forestry for instance, forest guards are the representatives of the forest department in rural society, who interpret and explain forest policies to local people. Thus far, little literature has been devoted to their perceptions of forest policy and administration and the social context in which they function. This essay presents an ethnography of the social and professional life of forest guards in Himachal Pradesh with a view to understanding the pragmatic realities of implementing forest policies in India.

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