From a neo-liberal, neo-classical paradigm, secure, formal and private property rights are crucial to fostering sustained development. Institutions that fail to respond to shifting socio-economic opportunities are thus forced to make new arrangements. The enigma is posed by developments on the ground. Why would the removal of authoritarian institutions during the Arab Spring or Iraq War not increase market efficiency but rather cause the reverse, while China and India, despite persisting insecure, informal and common institutions, featured sustained growth? This collection posits that understanding these paradoxes requires a refocusing from form to function, detached from normative assumptions about institutional appearance. In so doing, three things are accomplished. First, starting from case studies on land, it is ascertained that the argument can be meaningfully extended to labour, capital and beyond. Second, the argument validates the ‘Credibility Thesis’ – that is, once institutions persist, they fulfil a function. Third, the collection studies ‘development, broadly construed’, by including the modes of production and beyond, the rural and urban, the developed and developing. This is why it reviews property rights from China and India, to Turkey, Mexico and Malaysia, covering issues such as customary rights and privatization, mining and pastoralism, dam-building and irrigation, but also state-owned banks, trade unions and notaries.
This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Peasant Studies.
1. Introduction: An endogenous theory of property rights: opening the black box of institutions Peter Ho
2. Empty institutions, non-credibility and pastoralism: China’s grazing ban, mining and ethnicity Peter Ho
3. A conditional trinity as ‘no-go’ against non-credible development? Resettlement, customary rights and Malaysia’s Kelau Dam Bin Md Saman Nor-Hisham and Peter Ho
4. Local perceptions of grassland degradation in China: a socio-anthropological reading of endogenous knowledge and institutional credibility Heng Zhao and Karlis Rokpelnis
5. Are civil-law notaries rent-seeking monopolists or essential market intermediaries? Endogenous development of a property rights institution in Mexico Paavo Monkkonen
6. A history of institutional function: Mexican notaries and wealth distribution – Yucatan, 1850–1900 Juliette Levy
7. Rethinking labour market institutions in Indian industry: forms, functions and socio-historical contexts Satoshi Miyamura
8. Credibility and class in the evolution of public banks: the case of Turkey Thomas Marois and Ali Rıza Güngen
9. Secure rights and non-credibility: the paradoxical dynamics of canal irrigation in India Peter P. Mollinga
Critical Agrarian Studies is the new accompanying book series to the Journal of Peasant Studies. It publishes selected special issues of the journal and, occasionally, books that offer major contributions in the field of critical agrarian studies. The book series builds on the long and rich history of the journal and its former accompanying book series, the Library of Peasant Studies (1973-2008) which had published several important monographs and special-issues-as-books.