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Determinants, Consequences and Perspectives of Land Reform Politics in Newly Industrializing Countries

A Comparison of the Indian and the South African Case


David Betge

This comparative case study addresses central determinants of inequalities that persist in India and South Africa. The particular focus of the study is on programs aiming at the redistribution of land to the landless poor and these programs’ consequences. The central question is why extreme inequalities persist despite land redistribution programs that have been in place for decades and what role different actors and dominant ideas play in this. Beyond this empirical focus, the study transcends theoretical cleavages in the social sciences by following the basic ideas of Giddens’ Structurational Theory. An actor-centred approach is chosen as the primary tool for analysis. It is complemented with a structurational approach to discourse analysis for a detailed analysis of actors’ preferences.

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Chapter Nine: Conclusion of the study


This concluding chapter has three objectives. The first is to evaluate the findings in regard to the three hypotheses, fill in analytical blanks, assess the validity of the hypotheses, and answer the central questions guiding this study. The second objective is to assess what the findings mean for the future of land reforms and the creation of equality through land redistribution: this question is addressed in section 9.1. Finally, section 9.2 explicates the study’s contribution to Structuration Theory and its use for empirical research.

The three hypotheses developed in chapter two each relate in particular to one of the analytical levels addressed in this study. Hypothesis one refers to a dominant discourse, which is assumed to be primarily relevant on the level of policymaking and for setting the stage of land reforms, shaping actors’ preferences in this regard. The second hypothesis addresses the influences deriving from the embedding into international structures, which are assumed to impact on policy-related conceptions of land reforms, actors’ preferences and policy space. Finally, hypothesis three is focused on the level of policy implementation and interactions on the ground in the context of which primary land reform target groups are assumed to be structurally disadvantaged. The examination of these three hypotheses has provided detailed information on the interrelations between the different levels of analysis and the interrelated nature of the mechanisms specified in the hypotheses. The task now is to make sense of these findings and develop a coherent explanatory framework.

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