In the shadow of policy – edited by Paul Hebinck and Ben Cousins

In the shadow of policyedited by Paul Hebinck (Sociology of Rural Development, Wageningen University) and Ben Cousins (University of the Western Cape, Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies). Published by WITS University Press, see: http://witspress.co.za/catalogue/in-the-shadow-of-policy.

Notions of land and agrarian reform are now well entrenched in the everyday life of a significant number of people in post-apartheid South Africa. What reform actually means for everyday life varies considerably, however. The same counts for how we study and understand land and agrarian reform processes. The purpose of the book is not to provide an extensive review of academic debates or to argue that land reform has ‘failed’ to achieve its set goals so much as to document the different ways in which land and agrarian reform policies are experienced and practised at the grassroots level and the kind of responses they generate at the level of the state, policymakers and civil society (interest and lobby groups, non-governmental organisations, etc.). The book sets out to contribute to existing critical reflections by engaging with the policy debate along with the academic one in South Africa and elsewhere. These debates  surround a number of themes and pertinent issues, in turn informing and shaping the collection of papers brought together in this book. The title of the book, ‘In the Shadow of Policy: Everyday Practice in South Africa’s Land and Agrarian Reform’, is telling for the nature and character of the argument. The book aims to elucidate how a range of social actors involved in the land and agrarian reform process (e.g. policy makers, state officials, beneficiaries, extension workers), engage with the ideas and actions of policy institutions. In this way the book documents how these ideas are transmitted, contested, reassembled, and negotiated at the points where policy decisions and implementations impinge upon the life circumstances and everyday lifeworlds of so-called ‘lay’ or ‘non-expert’ actors.

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