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Cleaver, F. (2005). The inequality of social capital and the reproduction of chronic poverty. World Development 33 (6), 893-906

This paper draws on ethnographic research in Tanzania to question ideas inherent to mainstream development policy that building social capital can be readily created, used, or substituted for other missing assets, and thereby overcome poverty. The poorest experience clusters of interlocking disadvantage that make it highly unlikely that they can draw on social capital to ameliorate their poverty, or that increased association and participation at community level is necessarily beneficial to them. Moreover, social relationships, collective action, and local institutions may structurally reproduce the exclusion of the poorest. As such, a politically neutral and undersocialized policy focus on strengthening associational life and public participation of the poor is unlikely to lead to their greater inclusion, nor to significant poverty alleviation.


Cleaver, Frances

Frances' professional work is centred on three interrelated themes of central importance to the understanding of poverty, with particular application to the local governance of natural resources (especially land and water). Her interests link theoretical and methodological advances with...

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