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Exploring power and participation through informal livestock knowledge networks

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Abstract

Participatory epidemiology programmes aim to collect data by engaging local communities in knowledge sharing around livestock health. Critics of participatory approaches often cite the extractive nature of data collection and unequal power relations between researcher and researched as at odds with the original vision of participatory programming. This paper starts from the position that rural livestock owners are situated within multiple overlapping webs of relationships through which they exchange disease information and access resources. Participatory programmes are suggested as weaving new threads into these wider networks in a process that may be accepted or rejected by indigenous actors. Qualitative interviews were used to gather empirical data on the exchange of information around livestock health knowledge through indigenous relationships and a Participatory Disease Surveillance (PDS) programme within a Gabra pastoralist community in Northern Kenya. Subsequent analysis identified four pathway typologies; this paper provides a qualitative comparative analysis of each to explore the nature of participation within the study population. The paper concludes that social science approaches have a key role to play in understanding how relationships within and between indigenous and development actors can influence participation in development projects.

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This paper examines the persuasability of rhetorical value framing within a presidential nominating campaign, in an effort to understand how values and value-laden language may provide useful signals in electoral contexts where partisan cues are absent. Relying on a survey-experiment conducted during the 2000 Republican nomination campaign, I evaluate the relative persuasiveness of arguments framed in either individualistic or egalitarian terms. Drawing upon an “active-receiver” model of framing effects, I posit that Republican primary voters respond more readily to candidates when they use individualistic frames than when they use egalitarian frames, because individualism is a more “chronically accessible” value construct for Republicans. Furthermore, I hypothesize that this dynamic is particularly pronounced among more educated respondents, who have been trained to recognize abstract value cues and automatically apply them to applied political contexts. The experimental findings support these hypotheses.
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Maasai pastoralists in Kenya are rapidly diversifying. Maasai may now derive their main livelihoods (and sometimes considerable income) from farming, wildlife tourism, and/or the leasing of land for large-scale cereal cultivation. The spread of large-scale commercial cultivation competes with wildlife for grazing land, and wildlife populations around protected areas are rapidly declining as a result. This paper presents new data to analyse the way returns from different land uses, and the social structures affecting their distribution, influence the land-use choices being made by Maasai around the Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Returns to different interest groups from livestock, cultivation, and wildlife enterprises, seen in the light of current social, economic, and political trajectories, can help to clarify likely future land-use trends in the Mara. In particular, community conservation initiatives that seek to make conservation worthwhile to reserve-adjacent dwellers inevitably have a strong economic dimension. However, the choices made by Maasai landowners are not a simple function of the economic returns potentially accruing from a particular enterprise. They are as much or more influenced by who is able to control the different flows of returns from these different types of enterprise. These findings are relevant not only for the wider Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, but also for pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
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This study reports on New Zealand dairy farmers’ access to and use of information as mediated through conditions of risk and trust within the context of their interpersonal social networks. We located participants’ reports of their information use within their perceived environments of trust and risk, following Giddens's [1990. The consequences of modernity. Polity Press, Stanford, CA] typology of trust and risk in pre-modernity and modernity. The research participants were constant users of interpersonal and print information from numerous sources, and monitored their incoming data in the light of strategic needs, reflecting their roles as both farming practitioners and business owners. Socio-spatial knowledge networks (SSKNs) combine individuals’ explanatory cognitive models of information acquisition and use with a micro-geographical analysis of their interpersonal networks. The participants showed characteristics of pre-modern, modern and even post-modern society in respect of their use of complex interactional forms, as well as a blending of individualistic and communitarian practices and concerns in their professional and personal lives.