Development Implications of the Engagement with Capitalism: Improving the Social Returns of Development
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Purpose: The authors conclude the “Engaging with Capitalism” volume with a discussion of social theory focussing on the implications of the volume for practices in international and community development. Approach: This chapter draws together some of the key themes in this collection to identify the development implications of the efforts of local communities to socially embed their engagement with capitalism and markets to better serve their socioeconomic and cultural needs. Discussion is informed by the literature on social embededdness of economies, critical development theory, and the authors’ ongoing empirical research in rural Papua New Guinea. Findings: There is a growing recognition within anthropology and geography of the enduring influence of indigenous social and economic practices and values and their capacity to condition the introduced market economy and capitalist economic practices. The chapters in this collection, from the ‘Engaging with Capitalism’ sessions of the 2011 and 2012 ASAO conferences, speak to this issue directly by exploring how indigenous forms of socioeconomy interact with introduced capitalist and market processes to influence sociocultural and economic change at the local level. Research and social implications: The challenge for development researchers is how to conceptualize local engagements with capitalism, and to identify how such concepts and concerns might be applied in development practice to better serve the needs of local communities. We outline some key principles that could be incorporated into development planning to make development projects more sustainable and better tailored to the needs of recipient communities.
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