IDS Bulletin Vol. 32 Nos. 4

Complex Communities and Relational Webs

Published on 1 October 2001

Summaries Poststructural applications of actor?network theory and complexity theory promise a means to encompass uncertainty, diversity and surprise in changing communities and complex human ecologies. Local organisations and social movements mediate relations within and between households, groups and communities based on gender, class, age, occupation and political affiliation. Community groups tend toward multiple membership, complex identities and flexible webs of affinity between disparate groups. Coalitions gel, melt, collide and coalesce according to need and do not follow narrowly circumscribed economic or ideological lines. An example from Machakos Distinct, Kenya draws upon a landscape and a community dramatically shaped in the last hundred years by global empires, international economies and militaries, foreign and civil wars, local innovation and resistance, and changing gender and class relations. The case study focuses on the changing nature of community groups, their representation of multiple local constituencies and the shifting and pivotal roles of various groups in interactions between people, their lands and external forces (state, market and civil society).

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Rocheleau, D. (2001) Complex Communities and Relational Webs . IDS Bulletin 32(4): 78-87

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published by
Institute of Development Studies
Rocheleau, Dianne


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