Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

David Gillespie


This dissertation investigates the interaction of market-based development policy with democratic decentralization in ecological frontiers in western India inhabited by the vast majority of the country's poor. The study explores how the leaders of elected local bodies called panchayats who are driven by the imperatives of broad-based distribution deliver upwardly distributive capital-intensive development in resource-poor communities during a period of state-neoliberalization. On the basis of eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in eastern Gujarat, the study explores how the implication of panchayats- the world's largest system of democratic politics- in large-scale politics shapes the distribution of material resources in resource-dependent communities. In the context of the state's devolution of governance to non-state actors, the project investigates the role of political society actors including panchayat leaders, vote-brokers and political competitors in shaping the distribution and governance of market-led development and its impact on well-being. In doing so, the dissertation uses a mixed-method design combining a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques including archival research, household surveys, in-depth interviews, political ethnography, multi-site participant observation, and national, state and district-level data.


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