Researches and publications

Month: June 2020

Channels of Labour Control in Organic Farming: Toward a Just Agroecological Transition for sub-Saharan Africa

Channels of labour control and their indirect links to surplus values.
Participatory guarantee system monitoring (Senegal 2018) (Pic: Bottazzi)

Agroecological farming has long been described as more fulfilling than conventional agriculture, in terms of farmers’ labour and sense of autonomy. These assumptions must be reconsidered with adequate theoretical perspectives and with the empirical experience of recent
studies. This paper introduces the concept of channels of labour control in agriculture based on four initiatives in Senegalese agroecological horticulture. We build on Bourdieu’s theory of social fields to elaborate a framework that articulates multiple channels of labour control with the type of capital or surplus values structuring power relations during labour processes. Although each of the four agroecological initiatives place a clear emphasis on improving farmers’ well-being, various top-down channels of labour control exist, maintaining most farmworkers as technical demonstrators rather than agents of transformation. These constraints stem from dependence on foreign funding, enforcement of uncoordinated organic standards, and farmers’ incorporation of cultural values through interplays of knowledge and symbolic power with initiative promotors. Pressure on agricultural workers is exacerbated by the context of the neo-liberalisation of Senegalese agriculture and increasingly difficult climatic conditions. A more holistic approach of agroecological initiatives is needed, including the institutionalisation of protected markets for their products, farmers’ inclusion in agroecosystem governance and inclusiveness in the co-production of agroecological knowledge, taking cultural patterns of local communities into account. Recent attempts to scale-up and politicise agroecology through farmers’ organisations, advocacy NGOs, and municipalities may offer new perspectives for a just agroecological transition in sub-Saharan Africa.

Click here to access full text


Mechanisms and impacts of an incentive‐based conservation program with evidence from a randomized control trial

Conservation science needs more high‐quality impact evaluations, especially ones that explore mechanisms of success or failure. Randomized control trials (RCTs) provide particularly robust evidence of the effectiveness of interventions (although they have been criticized as reductionist and unable to provide insights into mechanisms), but there have been few such experiments investigating conservation at the landscape scale. We explored the impact of Watershared, an incentive‐based conservation program in the Bolivian Andes, with one of the few RCTs of landscape‐scale conservation in existence. There is strong interest in such incentive‐based conservation approaches as some argue they can avoid negative social impacts sometimes associated with protected areas. We focused on social and environmental outcomes based on responses from a household survey in 129 communities randomly allocated to control or treatment (conducted both at the baseline in 2010 and repeated in 2015–2016). We controlled for incomplete program uptake by combining standard RCT analysis with matching methods and investigated mechanisms by exploring intermediate and ultimate outcomes according to the underlying theory of change. Previous analyses, focused on single biophysical outcomes, showed that over its first 5 years Watershared did not slow deforestation or improve water quality at the landscape scale. We found that Watershared influenced some outcomes measured using the survey, but the effects were complex, and some were unexpected. We thus demonstrated how RCTs can provide insights into the pathways of impact, as well as whether an intervention has impact. This paper, one of the first registered reports in conservation science, demonstrates how preregistration can help make complex research designs more transparent, avoid cherry picking, and reduce publication bias.


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén