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How Africa Works

Edited By Deborah Bryceson
ISBN: 9781853396915
How Africa Works probes occupational change, identity, and social morality, challenging the view that development is secured through a market or a state-led path. It reveals insights into the interaction between states, markets, communities and households. Important reading for students, academics and policy makers working on Africa.

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  • Synopsis
    Occupational change is generally assumed to accompany ‘development’ and to be a necessary part of achieving improved standards of living. But occupational change goes beyond individuals’ economic activities and income-earning to redefine their social identity and contribute fundamentally to the reconfiguration of the ethical foundations of local communities and nation states. The search for alternative, viable livelihoods in times of economic crisis involves age-old occupational pursuits and work hierarchies eroding and new occupational identities and ethics coalescing. Social trust is put to the test as novel work situations and mobility patterns emerge. How Africa Works identifies the influence of changing work modes on the moral economy and social dynamics of the continent. Probing how occupational change alters identity and moulds consensus towards a new social morality, this book challenges the view that development is secured through a market or alternatively a state-led path. Case studies reveal a wealth of insights into the interaction between states, markets, communities and households, and illustrate how material reality and ethical values transform in unexpected ways. This book is important reading for students, academics and policy makers working on Africa.
  • Table of Contents
    Section I: Introduction
    1. Africa at work: transforming occupational identity and morality
    Deborah Fahy Bryceson
    Section II: New Occupational Mobility and Forms of Exchange in Globalizing Economies
    2. From farmers to traders: shifting identities in rural Igbo society, Nigeria
    Barth Chukwuezi and Dmitri van den Bersselaar
    3. Does trust travel? Horticultural trade in Kenya
    Tjalling Dijkstra
    4. Calculated chaos or cooperation? Informal financial markets in Kinshasa
    Mindanda Mohogu
    5. Linking irregular economies: remaking trans-urban commercial networks through new forms of social collaboration
    Abdou Maliq Simone
    6. Social capital or social exclusion? Social networks and informal manufacturing in Nigeria
    Kate Meagher
    Section III: Changing Work Patterns and Social Dynamics in Households, Communities and Nation-States
    7. Body and soul: economic space public morality and social integration of youth in Cameroon
    Nantang Jua
    8. Between family and market: urban informal workers’ networks and identities in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
    Ilda Lindell
    9. Sweet and sour: women working for wages on Tanzania's sugar estates
    Marjorie Mbilinyi
    Section IV: Occupational Change and Public Policy
    10. Shifting out of gear: households, livelihoods and public policy on the south African wild coast
    Leslie Bank
    11. Fair or foul play: taxation of women entrepreneurs in Cameroon
    Margaret Niger-Thomas
    12. Occupational change, structural adjustment and trade union identity in Africa: the case of Cameroonian plantation workers
    Piet Konings
    13. With or against the odds? Professionalization of the labour force in Tanzania
    Pekka Seppällä
    Section V: Conclusion
    14. Between moral economy and civil society: Durkheim revisited
    Deborah Fahy Bryceson
  • Endorsements
    ‘This book, rich in well-grounded case studies on work and working in different parts of Africa, makes a sustained and compelling case for taking seriously the making of occupational identities, in ongoing scholarly efforts to theorize the construction of social identities on the continent.’ Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town ‘A valuable collection of reflective studies of occupational identity in Africa, hugely welcome in the context of a long overdue reassessment of what work is and should be, after a century of labourist distortion. Africa has much to teach the rest of the world.’ Guy Standing, Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath and Co-President, Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN). ‘An important contribution to African studies, one which should be read by others interested in changing occupations, identities and moralities everywhere.’ Pat Caplan, Professor of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, University of London ‘This book addresses a nagging question which I, like many other Africans, frequently encounter in these globalizing heydays of the livelihood discourse: “How do you earn a living?” From multiple vantage points, the book shows how the types of work we do in Africa shape and are shaped by our social identity and self-worth as individuals and as a community which is stereotypically viewed as being stuck in poverty. It is a must read for anyone who genuinely needs to understand how work is valued or perceived - and thus practised and diversified - in various African occupational settings.’ Chambi Chachage, independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst
  • Details
    Sub Title No
    Author No
    Editor Deborah Bryceson
    Number of Pages 310
    Format Paperback / softback
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