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Confronting seasonality: Socioeconomic analysis of rural poverty and livelihood strategies in a dry land village. A case study of Theethandapattu, Tamil Nadu, India

Tara Natarajan-Marsh, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation focuses on the impact of seasonality on primarily the rural poor in Theethandapattu, a dry land village in the state of Tamil Nadu, southern India. The study views poverty as capability deprivation (Sen: 1989) rather than merely as an inadequacy of income. It operationalizes this view by researching ‘livelihoods’ i.e., both income and non-income earning methods of survival used by rural families to mitigate various risks they confront. Causal linkages are established between variables that interact in the process of creating deprivation. These variables are: the risks people face, the gamut of economic, social, cultural, ecological and institutional factors that impact in determining the actual livelihood strategies people employ. The study focuses on risks posed by climatic and economic seasonality, often times with variable manifestations depending on economic status of households. ^ Pre-testing of the field conducted by the investigator revealed striking differences in strategies used across classes, dependency relationships between them and effects of transformations in strategies of one class on other class(es). Using stratified random sampling with class as the axis of stratification, eighty household level surveys were conducted in the research village between August and December of 2000. ^ Striking changes in extant livelihood strategies of subsistence farmers and wage laborers on the one hand and large farmers on the other seem to have triggered a simultaneous fall in both the demand for and supply of labor. Commercialization of agriculture i.e., conversion towards the growth of non-food cash crops like coconut, banana and sugarcane by large farmers combined with large scale out—migration by small farmers and wage laborer are the specific changes in livelihood strategies. Vulnerabilities are thus redefined, created and in some cases alleviated in this dynamic process. ^ The explanations of the causal linkages that interact in the use of livelihood strategies are couched in the context of the changing face of the agrarian economy in an increasingly globally integrated market oriented society. ^

Subject Area

Economics, General

Recommended Citation

Natarajan-Marsh, Tara, "Confronting seasonality: Socioeconomic analysis of rural poverty and livelihood strategies in a dry land village. A case study of Theethandapattu, Tamil Nadu, India" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3016320.