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Power Matters:. Missed Opportunities for Poverty Reduction in Uganda. Paper Overview. Conceptual Issues - ‘Evaluating Frames’ Historical development of inequalities in Uganda, emphasizing the underlying power structures and relations

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Power Matters:

Missed Opportunities for Poverty Reduction

in Uganda


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Paper Overview

  • Conceptual Issues - ‘Evaluating Frames’

  • Historical development of inequalities in Uganda, emphasizing the underlying power structures and relations

  • Institutional Change and Policy Responses: interactions between new and old power structures and relations

  • How Power Performs

  • What Power Means for Methodology; What Power Means for Policy


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Main Arguments

  • Power structures and power relationsat multiple and interconnected (that is, from intra-household to global) levels are among the factors that underpin inequality and that can cause and keep people in poverty.


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Main Arguments

  • A comprehensive attack on poverty and inequality requires understanding of the sources of power and of ‘how power performs’ (its constructive and destructive roles and its more and less visible features).


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Therefore…

  • Power must figure in poverty analyses.

  • Power must figure in policy.


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Evaluating Frames

  • Frames shape the way we look at the world

  • There is a danger in assuming that the way we see the world is the only way to see the world

  • There is a danger in wearing our frames for so long that we forget we have them on


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Evaluating our Frames

  • How do we conceptualize individuals?

    • Rational autonomous agents


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The Rational Autonomous Actor

  • Will, with the right assets and opportunities, act to improve her own welfare; She will exercise `agency’

  • (Agency) - `Possesses internal powers and capacities, which, through their exercise, make her an active entity constantly intervening in the course of events ongoing around her (Barnes 2000)


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Rationality, Individuality and Poverty

  • Poor people are poor because they lack/have inadequate access to assets and opportunities; therefore, policy-makers should focus on supplying these

  • Poverty reduction may also depend on our improving the conditions under which people might exercise agency - avenues for participation and voice; institutional access; building capabilities etc.


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Rationality, Individuality and Inequality

  • Focus is on equality of what, not equality between whom


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An Alternate Framework

  • People are primarily social actors

  • As social actors, people observe norms of mutual accountability and susceptibility

  • As social actors, people are involved in relationships of power, which influence their thoughts, self-perceptions, visions, actions


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An Alternate Framework

  • People, in their roles as social actors, might accept and uphold conditions that perpetuate their own inequality.

  • People can become and remain poor because of the deliberate actions and inaction of others


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Relational Approach: The `Underbelly’ of Poverty

  • Giving Resources to Poor Baganda in Uganda might not solve inequalities - Norms of Mutual Accountability and Susceptibility

  • Many British subjects accept class distinctions between themselves and royalty, who have access to more and better opportunities and assets


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Relational Approach

  • It may be sensible, judicious; I.e perfectly rational for persons to act in ways that uphold shared ways of living and agreed understandings, where these actions do not serve individual interests.

  • People do not have to exercise agency, at least not in the direction we currently assume


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Relational Approach: The `Underbelly of Poverty’

  • Giving Assets and Opportunities to Women in Uganda might not solve inequalities - These are often owned and controlled by men

  • Facilitating the Conditions for Agency Might not solve poverty and inequality- People might have presence but no influence


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Summary Statements

  • Inequality and poverty can be understood as relational and categorical.


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Categorical vs. Relational

  • Categorical explanations focus on the disparities (such as in assets and opportunities) that exist across different groups of people (e.g. women, ethnic groups, the chronic poor).

  • Relational explanations focus on the processes and power relations that produce and sustain poverty and inequality, even within defined categories.


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The Significance of Power

  • Power relations—coercive and non-coercive; visible and hidden; agreed and imposed—can cause poverty and help to hold inequalities in place.


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The Significance of Power

  • A comprehensive attack on poverty and inequality requires understanding of the sources and performance of power, including its constructive and destructive roles and its more and less visible features. Power must figure in poverty analyses. Power must figure in policy.


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Development of Inequalities in Uganda

  • Pre-Colonial Uganda:

    • Centrality of the Clan; Norms of Mutual Accountability and Susceptibility Between Elders and Non-Elders, Rich and Poor etc. (Intransitive Power)

    • Women and slaves generally had low status, though positions differed across cultures. Women conditioned to accept position. (Coercive and non-coercive power)


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Note:

  • Social acceptance and relations central; these were not `individualistic’ societies

  • Norms and Values helped to sustain inequality

  • What appears as acceptance may well mask a calculation to postpone resistance; resist in less visible ways

  • Coercive and non-coercive forms of power; ingrained power/`habitus’.


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Colonial Uganda

  • Religion: Protestant-Catholic discord one of the most significant causes of intra/inter-ethnic group divisions

  • Racial Inequalities: White-Black; Asian-Black

  • Ethnic Inequalities: Privileged Place for the Baganda Elite

    • Administration, Land, Culture

    • Used to Mediate British Rule (Forced Crops, Sales, Taxes)


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Colonial Uganda

  • Regional/Spatial: British actively stratified the kingdoms.

    • Bunyoro regarded as enemy territory;

    • The North used as a reservoir for labor and soldiers. Deliberate policy not to stimulate production in these parts;

    • Economic zoning of the country fomented ethnic and regional tensions.


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Post-Colonial Uganda

  • Coercive power structures dominated Uganda’s politics - made use of ethnic and religious factionalism, social inequalities, political cleavages---producing widespread violence, repression and dislocation.

  • Ethnic and Religious Divisions mobilized for Political Ends


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Frames Again

  • Rational Frames - Assets and Opportunities

    • Build Roads, Provide Schools, Provide Markets

    • Supply seeds, Improve Access to Health

    • Improve the Quality of Health etc


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Frames Again

  • Relational Frames

    • Power is embedded in institutions (formal and informal);

    • People not only concerned about tangible means of addressing inequality; also concerned about the intangible - transforming the ways in which they are perceived; terms of which they are acceptance- source of power

    • Historical legacies empower some; dis-empower others and these are not easily overturned, particularly where they are ingrained


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Frames Again

  • Characteristics of Ingrained Power:

    • What you believe about yourself creates your world

    • Thoughts …. Beliefs …. Convictions…. Attitudes….. Perceptions ……Behaviour


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Institutional and Policy Responses (Post 1986)

  • The NRM’s Ten Point Programme outlined plans for an integrated self-sustaining economy, which required democracy, security and regional cooperation


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Key Features

  • Resistance Council (RC) then decentralized Local Council (LC) system

    • Decision-making power, authority and policy-making responsibilities should be located at the local levels

    • All citizens should be able to participate; to ensure this, some groups, such as women, PWDs and youth must be allocated special places via affirmative action.


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Key Features

  • Policies to counter sectarianism :

    • Under the Movement system, Uganda was to be a distinct no-party democracy and political parties were prohibited from appealing for membership on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion etc.

    • Space opened but controlled


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  • Political stance opened space for women

  • Women’s organizations have been able to influence a National Gender Policy (1997); they have also been instrumental in healing societal divisions.

  • Key (Tripp 2001)- Women’s groups have resisted political cooptation


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Limitations

  • Increased presence has not produced the desired gains:

    • Government has obstructed efforts to act as an interest group;

    • Ingrained patriarchy and sexism in Parliament and at local state levels

    • Habitus / `Tacit Acceptance’ - Some women uphold the norms that disadvantage them


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Chronic Poor

  • Routes: LCs, Parliament, CSOs, Lobby Groups

  • Level of influence depends on perceived threat; PWDs and youth least influential (Hickey 2003); women more organized

  • Northern MPs concerned that the chronic poverty and destitution in the North are being neglected, largely for political reasons/desire to ensure power balance.


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Limitations

  • Donor-Political-Technocrat ownership of the PEAP (particularly up to late 1990s) - Precludes alternate positions

  • Discourse and Power: Chronic poor are being depicted as groups that are left behind, incapable of taking advantage, lacking agency


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The Batwa Story

  • Small group of former hunter gatherers who live on the outskirts of the Echuya Forest and the Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks

  • Expelled from the forest in the 1930s

  • Discriminated against by local groups


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Source of Legacy

  • 1751 - Edward Tyson - The Anatomy of a Pgymie Compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape and a Man

  • Conclusion - Pygmies are all either apes or monkeys, and not men, as formerly pretended


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Consequences for Batwa

  • Perceptions-Viewed as subhuman and primitive

  • Overlooked at policy level; discriminated against in markets and within society.


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Consequences for Batwa Women

  • Social and economic marginalization plus disadvantage within the household.


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How Power Performs:

  • People are not only poor because they do not have access to adequate assets and opportunities; power structures and relations can cause and help to keep people poor.

  • Power structures and the relationships that support them can be cultivated over long periods and, therefore, have deep historical roots


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How Power Performs

  • Power relations may persist despite institutional change because less tangible but durable factors, such as ingrained norms and perceptions of inferiority and superiority continue to hold the status quo in place.


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How Power Performs

  • Overt and Coercive: The more powerful can use their positions to compel others to act in ways they would choose not to. Coercion can entail the use of force. It may also rely on subtle but no less effective strategies, such as categorizing people and problems in ways that suit the more dominant.


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How Power Performs

  • Hidden and Coercive: The more powerful can operate effectively from behind the scenes; coercive power can be embedded in formal and informal institutions, hidden but effective


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How Power Performs

  • Overt and Non-Coercive: Power is not only coercive; it can also be (visibly) instrumental in building consensus. As Parsons explains, people may use power in non-conflictual and non-coercive ways, building agreements in order to achieve desired outcomes.


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How Power Performs

  • Hidden and Non-Coercive: Power relations are upheld unintentionally and even unconsciously. Here, power relations are so ingrained that there is little need for overt coercive demonstrations.


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How Power Performs

  • Power relations affect people’s lives from policy to intra-household levels.


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Power and Methodology

  • Combined Methodologies

    • Quantitative measures alone are inadequate for understanding relational forms of poverty and inequality

    • By combining qualitative and quantitative methods---particularly those explicitly designed to understand power relations---analysts can gain a better understanding of the processes underlying poverty and inequality


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Power and Policy: Beyond Assets and Opportunities

  • Evaluating Our Roles in Policy Process:

    • How do we influence policy?

    • How does the language we use empower/disempower?

    • What categories do we assign and what are the consequences? (NB. The Power to Categorize is itself an act of power, which can cause social dislocation)


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Power and Policy: Beyond Assets and Opportunities

  • The Character and Role of Institutions (Formal and Informal)

  • Education - Re-Presenting Histories; Celebrating Value

  • Working with Power Holders (Not merely the elite but men in the home; neighbours of the Batwa; village leaders etc.)

  • Building Capabilities and the Capacity to Aspire


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