Agency of Development and Agents of Change: Localization, Resistance, and Empowerment

By Natarajan, Tara | Journal of Economic Issues, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Agency of Development and Agents of Change: Localization, Resistance, and Empowerment


Natarajan, Tara, Journal of Economic Issues


The counterforce of development through localization is indispensable for rural poverty alleviation and development in India to be a sustaining and sustainable process. Rural poverty in India derives from a complex set of forces that often reinforce one another. The thesis in this paper focuses on particular strategies developed by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and their communities in rural India that not only help mitigate various forces that create and reinforce poverty but also serve as counter-development strategies. The focus in this paper is on two complex forces that have direct and indirect effects on rural poverty: (1) seasonality and (2) a global capitalist transformation of agriculture. Rural localization among the marginalized could be a counterdevelopment strategy that seeks to promote an alternative working model of rural regeneration. This process of regeneration is focused on creating an ecologically driven local agrarian economy that primarily functions as a provisioning mechanism of livelihood and food security and instrumentally also empowers people through the creation of local self-dependent communities. Based in a systems framework, rural localization aims to establish sustainable, self-sufficient livelihoods through the creation of internal markets between various village-level self-help groups. The power of localization as a socioeconomic movement lies in its ability to create civil society through community action. (1) This notion is echoed in the vision statement of Deccan Development Society (DDS), a rural development organization in southern India, which hopes to consolidate its village-level groups into vibrant organs of primary local governance and a strong pressure lobby for socially deprived groups such as woman, poor, and dalit (2) (http://www.ddsindia.com).

The Central Argument

I make the case for promoting particularly those self-help groups engaged in what Richa Nagar and Saraswati Raju have called processive and systemic change rather than cosmetic change (2003, 4, 5). The processive change that some NGOs seek to foster lies in a particular approach to development that operationalizes the link between agency and agents of developmental change and thereby generates spaces of empowerment. These spaces of empowerment are considered as being key in promoting social justice and thereby alleviating poverty and advancing sustainable forms of development. I argue that it is in fact localization, viewed as an institutional process, which is the agency of development. I use the term localization to mean local movements or processes that create action at the local level. I follow Urea Kothari and Martin Minogue in their definition of agency: "the network of institutions and actors that through their actions and interactions 'produce' development. The analysis of agency is crucial because it allows us to capture the complexities of the process by which ideas are mediated into objectives and translated into practice" (2002, 13). While the practical function of localization lies in its ability to create sustainable local economies, its instrumental value lies in its ability to empower individuals and their communities by making the "recipients" of development be the agents of development. The ownership of resources is central to developmental change as is the control over the meaning and material and nonmaterial process of development to creating agents of change. Spaces of empowerment can now be created in the individual, familial, and larger social sphere by penetrating through the complexities of social barriers such as gender and caste.

While this paper is primarily a theoretical exploration of the benefits of such an approach and not an in-depth case study of any particular organization, for illustrative purposes it will draw upon the conceptual framework and workings of the DDS in the Zaheerabad district of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. (3) Localization in the case of DDS has taken the form of constructive resistance to the local manifestation of global capital.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Agency of Development and Agents of Change: Localization, Resistance, and Empowerment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.