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Title: A grounded theory approach to comparing rural change processes : a case-study of three villages in Nepal
Author: Manandhar, Prabin.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2005
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The broad objective of this thesis is to understand the dynamics of rural change In Nepal and to relate this to the dominant paradigms of rural change espoused by key informants in Kathmandu. The conceptualisation of social relationships in rural society is built on notions of civil society and social wealth and involves the Identification of bonding, bridging and linking as distinctive forms of interaction and solidarity. Empirically, the thesis compares and contrasts three examples (case studies) of rural change in three locations -a remote village, a roadside village and a Maoist controlled village in a hill district and thereby makes a contribution to the analysis of rural change in the middle hills and wider Nepal. The case studies exemplify three ideal types of rural transformation in which traditional/conservative authority works with mechanical solidarity to produce strong bonding and linking social wealth, bureaucratic/liberal-democratic authority works with organic solidarity to challenge bonding and linking social wealth and construct new bridging "class" social wealth, and charismatic/populist authority works with mechanical and organic solidarities to build on bonding social wealth towards greater bridging social wealth, and challenge linking social wealth, respectively. The research deploys qualitative field research methods in a grounded theory approach, bringing semi-structured interviews and participatory investigation into interaction with concepts drawn from the literatures on social capital and complexity theory, Weberian authority patterning, Durkheimian models of social solidarity, Burnsian models of leadership, and Hersey and Blanchard's models of change strategy. The research does not take a meta-view of civil society, however, but stays close to the observations at village level. Epistemologically, the research adopts a social constructivist approach drawing on complexity theory. The findings reveal that the paradigms of rural change prevalent at the centre are too simplistic, overstating exogenous forces and underestimating local structural resilience. The shifting frontier between transactional and transformatory actions at the village level is not well understood and the vision of overall direction of rural change is not clear to people at the centre. In other words, academics and policy-makers at the centre lack a coherent and grounded vision of where Nepal is actually heading. The usual basic model adopted is that Nepal is poor and backward, but moving towards modernity. The case studies, however, suggest that the dynamics of rural change are far more complex. Rural society in Nepal is moving at different speeds in different directions, though movement is to some extent path-dependent, constrained by historically embedded structures. The thesis shows that, apart from the most remote village where more conservative linking processes still dominate, the two other case study villages are dynamic, but in different ways. The remote village is conservative and reproduces social structures and relationships that underpin a system of mutual support and associated exploitation with authority legitimised by tradition. The roadside village is undergoing change as a result of rural infrastructural change and the penetration locally of market relations. Here processes that might be broadly Identified as capitalist are challenging historic relationships (of bonding and linking) and new forms of relationship are emerging changing the nature of patterning of inequality. The Maoist controlled village is deepening the (bridging) social wealth of poor and disadvantaged people within a distinctive progressive framework to facilitate deliberate intervention to reverse hierarchies. The findings demonstrate that building on ethnic bonding relationships can facilitate bridging between groups, which in turn generates more organic social wealth and underpins struggles against hierarchical linking mechanical relations using the mix of participative and directive change strategy. The findings also demonstrate that not just market relations and rural infrastructure development, but progressive political, social and ideological changes are needed to bring about the kind of rural transformation that generates more equality and justice as well as more wealth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available