The Paradox of Agrarian Change: Food Security and the Politics of Social Protection in Indonesia (Paperback)
Email or call for price.
A detailed study of agrarian change, the persistence of food insecurity, and the most significant policy to address poverty in rural Indonesia.
Economic growth in the middle-income countries of Southeast Asia over the past few decades has been widely praised for reducing poverty in both absolute and relative terms. Indonesia is a prime example. But while poverty has declined in Indonesia, patterns of food poverty persist across Indonesia. What explains this troubling paradox? How does it relate to Indonesia’s enthusiastic embrace of the “entitlements revolution,” the use of direct cash transfers as a tool for reducing poverty and building social inclusion?
This book analyzes the nature and social consequences of economic development and agrarian change processes in rural Indonesia in relation to the scope and effectiveness of Indonesia’s social protection programs. The findings are based on a series of extensive ground-up case studies in Indonesian communities in a variety of eco-agrarian settings that seek to understand the drivers of food insecurity and vulnerability at a household level. The results show that while high-value farming, diversification, and migration may offer a means of economic progress for poor households, opportunities for accumulation are limited. This, the authors show, is due to the way class, gender, and power work in remote local contexts, and the fact that much surplus income is used for enhanced consumption and changing lifestyles. There are few signs of the classical structural transformation of the countryside which has historically been considered the most decisive pathway out of rural poverty. The authors conclude that social assistance is unlikely to counter the persistence of rural poverty, food insecurity, and precarity in the absence of other redistributive strategies that shift the structural drivers of inequality.
About the Author
John F. McCarthy is associate professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at Australian National University.
Andrew McWilliam is professor of anthropology at Western Sydney University.
Gerben Nooteboom is associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.