Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The state and agrarian change in Zimbabwe's communal areas : an application of critical theory
Author: Drinkwater, M. J.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8309 2115
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1988
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The nature of agrarian policies and their impact on social and economic change in Zimbabwe's communal areas, are the substantive subjects investigated in this thesis. It is argued that there are strong similarities between post-independence policies and the policies of the 1930 to 1960 'technical development phase' of the colonial era. For instance, the contemporary grazing scheme and internal land reform policies bear a close resemblance to the much resisted destocking and land husbandry policies of the late 1940s and 1950s, when people lost both land and cattle. The thesis explores the reason for these continuities. Use is made in this presentation of the critical theory of Jurgen Habermas. In particular, Habermas' argument that an unnecessarily one-sided process of societal rationalisation has taken place in the modern era, is drawn upon. with the development of the institutions of capitalism and the bureaucratic state, policy actions, such as those considered in the Zimbabwean case, have become dominated by a purposive rationality. This means rural societies are not involved in the formulation of the policies that closely affect their lives. Instead they are viewed ~isp~ssionately from within the state system as ignorant and inclined to act against their own interests. policies, which are imposed upon them, are then evaluated merely in terms of their technical efficiency and strategic success. The full potential of modernisation, Habermas believes, can only be realised if the 'relations of force' that maintain nonreflective forms of thought are broken down, and if purposiverational action is subordinated to decisions reached through unconstrained communication. Such a communicative rationality is essential to the successful reproduction of societies. Applying this perspective to the Zimbabwean situation, it is-argued in the thesis that policy measures will indeed only become more effective in enhancing rural social and economic welfare, if greater dialogue does occur between rural leaders and government agencies. A proviso to this is that the leaders must be accepted as legitimate representatives by their peoples and not merely be those empowered by the state. In validation of this claim, it is shown how the epistemoloqy peasant farmers hold, with regard to the environment and the nature of an ideal land use system, is entirely different from that held by western educated technical experts. For the perspective of farmers is developed upon the basis that the intr ins ic feature of savanna environments is their var iabi 1 i ty, not their normality. Preferred agricultural and pastoral management strateg.ies are therefore adapted to coping with inconsistency and adversity. Critical to such an indigenous farming system are 'key resource' wetland areas, which are productive, if carefully managed, even in dry seasons. Holding that the use of such areas leads to degradation, successive governments since the 1930s have, however, banned their use. Moreover, the high population densities in the communal areas and the inadequate access to land, labour and livestock resources of the majority of households, has led to people being forced to abuse their environment. Through an analysis of the activities of Agritex, the Zimbabwean agricultural extension agency, it is also argued that radical substantive policy change is dependent upon prior structural and attitudinal change within bureaucratic agencies. The psychological as well as material barriers that prevent the improvement of mutual understanding between rural peoples and outside officials require to be breached. In summary, Habermas' critical theory is used to draw attention to the question of epistemology, both in the implementation of policies and in the conduct of research. In social science and social policy, there is a need to move away from the objectifying impersonalisation of positivism towards a ___ ore critical theory of knowledge. The principal concern of such a theory is to tackle social 'relations of force' through a prior recognition and reconciliation of conflicting interpretations of the world. For this to occur, however, requires us all to accept responsibility for the value choices we make, but nevertheless to be aware of the inevitably limited nature of the understanding upon which these choices are based. In this way 'alternative possibilities' for soci~l change in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, may be realised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Policy on agriculture/Zimbabwe