Neoliberalism and rural change

Land and capital concentration, and the precariousness of labour

Authored by: Cristóbal Kay

The Handbook of Neoliberalism

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138844001
eBook ISBN: 9781315730660
Adobe ISBN: 9781317549666

10.4324/9781315730660.ch34

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Abstract

This chapter analyses the key features of neoliberalism as related to rural change. During the 1970s the statist development paradigm followed by most developing countries came increasingly under fire from neoliberal thinkers. The statist development strategy prioritized industrialization, often neglecting the development of agriculture and the rural areas. The debt crisis of the 1980s, which affected several developing countries, provided the opportunity for multilateral institutions like the World Bank to push for the adoption of ‘structural adjustment programmes’ (SAPs) as a condition for receiving loans and development aid. The SAPs contained key elements of the neoliberal policy proposals which aimed to reduce the role of the state in the economy and give free rein to market forces by removing protectionist measures and opening the economy to the competitive forces of the world market. These neoliberal policies, referred to in the late 1980s as the ‘Washington Consensus’, morphed, a decade later, into the ‘post-Washington Consensus’ as social policies were added to the neoliberal policy package so as to ameliorate the devastating consequences of the initial neoliberal shock which had seen a steep rise in poverty. Neoliberalism profoundly restructured the agricultural sector and rural spaces. The analysis starts by discussing the key propositions of the neoliberal paradigm with reference to rural development. The main section provides a relatively detailed examination of the major impacts of neoliberalism on rural development. It is followed by a discussion of some rural counter-movements contesting neoliberalism. The chapter ends with some conclusions.

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