Working Paper

Contested paradigms of ‘viability’ in redistributive land reform: perspectives from southern Africa

Published on 22 January 2010

‘Viability’ is a key term in debates about land reform in southern African and beyond, and is used in relation to both individual projects and programmes. ‘Viability’ connotes ‘successful’ and ‘sustainable’ – but what is meant by viability in relation to land reform, and how have particular conceptions of viability informed state policies and planning approaches? More broadly, how have different notions of viability influenced the politics of land in recent years? This paper interrogates this influential but under-examined notion, reflecting on debates about the viability of land reform – and in particular about the relevance of smallscale, farming-based livelihoods – in southern Africa and more broadly.

Cite this publication

Cousins, B. and Scoones, I. "Contested paradigms of ‘viability’in redistributive land reform: perspectives from southern Africa." The Journal of Peasant Studies 37.1 (2010): 31-66.


Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
Institute for Poverty
Cousins, B. and Scoones, I.
PLAAS Working Paper, issue 15


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