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Development Economics on Trial: The Anthropological Case for a Prosecution

By: P Hill

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jun 1986 | #8151 | ISBN: 0521310962
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NHBS Price: £29.99 $38/€33 approx

About this book

Polly Hill's provocative new book examines the disastrous gulf that currently separates development economics from its sister discipline, economic anthropology. Working with material from the rural tropical world, much of it collected at first hand in West Africa and South India, Dr Hill demonstrates in the first, polemical part of her book how very unreliable and western-biased are the assumptions on which most development economists base their theoretical work. She shows in particular that misleading official statistics are handled uncritically, that the significance of innate rural inequality is consistently ignored and the revered concepts such as the 'population explosion' are in anthropological terms largely meaningless. The longer second part of the book illustrates the enormous relevance and potential of economic anthropology for economists by looking in turn at the true complexity of farming households, labour and inheritance; at debt, social stratification and economic inequality, and at problems connected with the sale of land, the role of women and migration. Taken overall, Development Economics on Trial represents a powerful and urgent plea for co-operation.


Acknowledgments; Preface; Preamble; Appendix; 1. Why country people are not peasants; 2. The vain search for universal generalizations: the relevance of economic inequality; 3. The vain search for universal generalizations: The poor quality of official statistics; 4. The vain search for universal generalizations: historicist fallacies; 5. Pause: how can the impasse be resolved?; 6. The logical necessity for economic inequality within rural communities; 7. The farming household: its defects as a statistical unit; 8. The need to be indebted; 9. The flexibility of inheritance systems; 10. The neglect of farm-labouring systems; 11. Misconceptions about migration; 12. The neglect of women; 13. The sale of farmland; 14. Rural class stratification? Postscript; Glossary and place names; References; Index.

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