Idealised land markets and real needs: the experience of landless people seeking land in the Northern and Western Cape through the market-based land reform programme
Tilley, Susan Mary
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This thesis interrogates the claim that resource-poor, rural land seekers can acquire land through the land market which constitutes the central mechanism of land redistribution in South Africa's market-based land reform programme. The study explores two key aspects in relation to this claim. Firstly, it provides a critique of the underlying assumptions prevalent in much of the current market-based land reform policy, as advocated by its national and international proponents, and the manner in which the market as a mechanism for land redistribution has been conceptualized and its outcomes envisaged. Secondly, it considers the extent to which this conceptualization - which it is argued, draws on idealized and abstracted notions of land market functioning - is realized and examines the extent to which the espoused outcomes of market-based land reform policy are aligned with or contradicted by the functioning of real markets and the experiences of resource-poor land seeking people in their attempts to engage in the land market with limited state support. The details of the market's operation are analysed, with a distinction made between the operational practice of real markets - based on direct evidence-based observation and degrees of policy abstraction and theoretical assumptions regarding how markets should or might operate. The study's methodological framework draws on an agrarian political economy perspective, as used by theorists such as Akram-Lodhi (2007) and Courville (2005), amongst others. This perspective enables a consideration of the various contexts and socially embedded processes involved in land transactions and the extent to which these are shaped and framed by the politics of policy-making. In line with this perspective, the study focuses on the social relations brought to bear on the acquisition of land and the way in which land markets operate. It is suggested that land is not solely viewed as an economic commodity by land-seekers. Furthermore, it was found that markets cannot be understood as neutral institutions in which participants are equal players.
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