Agrarian reform, social movements and Community Based Organization: the emergence of new organizational forms? A case study in Northeast Brazil

Inguaggiato, Carla (2014) Agrarian reform, social movements and Community Based Organization: the emergence of new organizational forms? A case study in Northeast Brazil. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



There is an on-going debate on the effects of participatory development interventions; some scholars claim that participation is the key driver of change while others show that these interventions are vulnerable to unintended consequences and often only empower the already leading elites. The Brazilian agrarian reform created a large migration flow into villages inside sugar cane plantations (engenhos) that became agrarian reform settlements (assentamentos). The main novelties in assentamentos are the presence of households with heterogeneous background and free use of land. The main question is whether the agrarian reform and producers’ cooperatives supported the emergence in assentamentos of new forms of social organization. This research argues that that impact of development intervention is not only related to participants but to the entire target social structure. Applying theory of adaptiveness, the main hypothesis is that the capacity of assentamentos to respond to the changes promoted by these external interventions depends on the level of overlap between multiple social networks that define the social structure of assentamentos. This research explores qualitatively and quantitatively the network formation of three assentamentos in Northeast Brazil. Furthermore it analyzes how one cooperative supporting family farming influences and it is influenced by the social network structure. The agrarian reform and the creation of a producers’ cooperative can be considered as participatory interventions, as they were community driven. The unit of analysis is the household. Households are the nodes in the network. Villages are considered as social relational systems. The analysis focuses on the study of multiple networks that connect households in each village. By analyzing three agrarian reform settlements that were created by three different social movements, the research shows that different households’ recruitment strategies and different villages’ histories led to different village composition and social processes behind network formation. Family farming plays a crucial role in allowing for the possibility to create new rural villages that differ from previous sugar cane plantation production units. The possibility of family farming to become a relevant livelihood strategy is associated with the features of villages’ social networks. The producers’ cooperative, supporting the introduction of new labor-intensive crops and guaranteeing a market for some crops, sustains family farming employment network. However the brokering role of the cooperative is hampered by the cooperative political positioning and by the path of specialization towards high value and labor-intensive crops.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Local Development and Global Dynamics (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:XXVI
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/06 ECONOMIA APPLICATA
Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/09 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI ECONOMICI E DEL LAVORO
Uncontrolled Keywords:Family farming, Brazilian agrarian reform, Multiple social networks, Organizational invention
Funders:TCIC Training Centre for International Cooperation
Repository Staff approval on:15 May 2014 17:04

Repository Staff Only: item control page