Download Analytical Issues in Participatory Natural Resource by Bhaskar Vira, Roger Jeffery (eds.) PDF

By Bhaskar Vira, Roger Jeffery (eds.)

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By Bhaskar Vira, Roger Jeffery (eds.)

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Additional resources for Analytical Issues in Participatory Natural Resource Management

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4. Discussion: who participates, how, with whom and for what? This brief description of past episodes of ‘participation in natural resource management’ along the forest fringe in southern Kerala is intended to provide insights for the discussion of present participation efforts. What are such insights? First of all, the description indicates the variety of meanings of ‘people’, ‘participation’ and ‘natural resources’. 1 People A rough typology (including associated connotations) of involved actors includes the following: the early settlers considered by the state today as accepted partners; the later settlers labelled by state agencies as encroachers, and seen as a threat to forests; the tribals, treated in a rather patronising manner by almost all other parties; the Forest Department’s identity as producer of industrial raw materials; the Forest Department’s (later) identity which is increasingly concerned with conservation and biodiversity; industries interested in forest produce, influencing government to make Forest Department produce required raw materials; environmentalists, being themselves a group of otherwise heterogeneous actors, perceiving forests as threatened by settlers/encroachers as well as the state; political movements supporting land distribution to the rural poor; and foreign donors.

Some argue that the key meanings guiding present actions are few, and that conservation is a powerful and widely shared value today. But the present study suggests this to be a rather static perception, and observers at the fringe state that the value of the land component continues to be important: that it is just suppressed, perhaps temporarily, by other dominant meanings. Recent initiatives intend to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence among the main actors, and some are based on the assumption that this confidence exists.

These groups of actors are not ‘passive recipients of intervention, but active participants who process information and strategize in their dealings with various local actors as well as with outside institutions and personnel’ (Long and Long 1992: 21, emphasis added; for early research along such lines, see Bierschenk 1988; Olivier de Sardan 1988). To conceptualise ‘participation’ within such a broader understanding of development processes, Long and Long based their argument on Giddens’ (1984) structuration theory, especially using the notion of social agency which attributes ‘to the individual actor the capacity to process social experience and to devise ways of coping with life.

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