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Title: Involuntary urban resettlement : a study of socio-cultural livelihood impoverishment and reconstruction in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Author: Whitehead, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 7086
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis explores socio-cultural livelihood impoverishment caused by involuntary urban resettlement in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where people are involuntarily displaced from informal dwellings in the city centre to resettlement sites in an urban area. Within the field of development-caused forced displacement and resettlement (DFDR), research has identified the principal risks of impoverishment. These risks have been encapsulated within a theoretical framework, the Impoverishment Risk and Reconstruction (IRR) framework, formulated by Michael Cernea whilst working at the World Bank (Cernea 2000). Cernea considers this model to be adaptable to differing situations of involuntary resettlement but, while the economic impoverishment risks of urban resettlement are widely appreciated, the socio-cultural risks of urban resettlement have yet to be fully explored. This thesis aims to extend and test the IRR framework in the context of urban resettlement through an exploration of the socio-cultural livelihood impoverishment risks within urban resettlement and also examines the extent of sociocultural livelihood reconstruction that occurs post-resettlement, with particular emphasis on the role of the displaced in re-establishing social livelihood patterns. This thesis explores the nature of socio-cultural impoverishment, which occurs as a result of involuntary urban resettlement in three case study sites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The empirical findings of the thesis reveal specific socio-cultural impoverishment risks that are particular to urban resettlement such as the size of the resettlement site, with larger sites attracting higher levels of support from Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), increased stress due to the fragmentation of nuclear families and exclusion from ceremonies and festivals due to financial impoverishment. The study also reveals that urban resettlement does not impoverish all areas of the displacees' socio-cultural lives but there is evidence of new alliances and networks formed as a consequence of resettlement. The thesis questions the validity of using the reconstruction aspect of the IRR framework in the context of involuntary urban resettlement where the majority of cases occur in countries not adhering to international planning guidelines around resettlement, therefore raising concerns about the validity of using a diagnostic, state-centric framework. In addition, the thesis argues that the normative framework does not recognise the significant role played by the resettled in their socio-cultural livelihood reconstruction. The findings from this thesis lay a foundation for further study and add depth to the IRR model, enabling policy makers to assess more fully the socio-cultural impoverishment risks from urban resettlement. Furthermore, the study highlights the need to further develop and refine methodological tools to better encapsulate the nature of sociocultural livelihoods.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available