Handbook on Development and Social Change
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Handbook on Development and Social Change

Edited by G. H. Fagan and Ronaldo Munck

This Handbook provides an accessible critical review of the complex issues surrounding development and social change today. With chapters from recognized experts, examining economic, political and social aspects, and covering key topics and developing regions, it goes beyond current theory and sets out the debates which will shape an approach better suited to the modern world.
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Chapter 17: Requiem for the sustainable livelihoods approach?

A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi


The sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) is predicated upon the idea that the ability of people to construct a livelihood strategy could be enabled or constrained by a variety of interlocking factors that could not be addressed in isolation. Despite having a hegemonic position within the field of rural development studies for a period, latterly the SLA came to be criticized from several perspectives. Its lack of attention to questions of wider power dynamics beyond the community was questioned. Livelihood options may be severely constrained or even imposed from beyond the community, especially when outsiders explicitly limit local livelihood options because of concerns around their normative suitability; the production of the plants that produce the opioids that fuel the global illicit drug trade is a case in point. This chapter argues that the solution to the poverty problematic requires abandoning or moving beyond the SLA, which falls short of prescribing structural change.

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