Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of social capital in household economy and landuse/ land-cover change in areas of land reform in Santarém, Brazilian Amazon
by Navarro Barnard, Doris Graziela, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 390; 3615618
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the relationship between community structure and social dynamics and farmers' livelihood and land-use decisions in settlements of land reform in the Brazilian Amazon. Using social capital theory, it addresses the following questions: How can social capital be conceptualized in areas of land reform in the Amazon region and how does it change over time? What is the role of local organizations in community formation and development in colonization areas of the Amazon region? How has settlement design influenced farmers' participation in local organizations? How does social capital within rural communities influence the dynamics of household economy in the Amazon region? How does social capital, in the form of norms of reciprocity and boundaries, affect land-use/land-cover change at farm and community levels? To answer these questions, this dissertation combines ethnographic data, social-network analyses, linear regression analyses, multi-temporal remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems. This is a unique, in-depth study of social capital —in the form of social networks, participation in local organizations, and norms of reciprocity— taking into consideration the particularities of areas of land reform organized around a regime of private property. Three communities were chosen for this study: Nova Aliança, Poço Branco, and Serra Grande. The arrival of more capitalized farmers in Nova Aliança and Poço Branco, who tend to invest in a more diversified agriculture, has led to high incidence of land turnover, resulting in higher rates of deforestation. Conversely, Serra Grande has developed a system of boundary norms that has limited land turnover, resulting in lower rates of deforestation. In these communities, networks based on trust provide for the households' immediate needs, furthering their access to community organizations. Although settlement design is not a hindrance to interaction and trust, it results in differential participation in some local organizations, such as the farmers' associations. The latter contribute to the upward mobility of poor farmers by providing access to credit, though benefits are not equally shared among the residents. However, these associations' heavy dependence on governmental assistance jeopardize the positive outcomes they intend, limiting their effectiveness and undermining trust and cooperation among farmers. These findings will help small farmers in the Amazon and elsewhere recognize the intrinsic value of local organization and collective action, and how these intertwine in influencing their quality of life, sociocultural identity, sense of belonging, and perspectives towards the future.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brondizio, Eduardo S.
Commitee: Long, J. Scott, Tucker, Catherine, Wilk, Richard
School: Indiana University
Department: Environmental Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-B 75/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Land Use Planning, Latin American Studies, Environmental science
Keywords: Amazon, Brazil, Household economy, Land reform, Land-cover change, Land-use change, Social capital
Publication Number: 3615618
ISBN: 978-1-303-81673-4
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