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Class: an essential aspect of watershed planning

By J. Adams

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A study of a watershed planning process in the Cache River Watershed in southern Illinois (USA) revealed that class divisions, based on property ownership, underlay key conflicts over land use and decision-making relevant to resource use. A class analysis of the region indicates that the planning process served to endorse and solidify the locally-dominant theory that land ownership confers the right to govern. This obscured the class differences between large full-time farmers and small-holders whose livelihood depends on non-farm labour. These two groups generally opposed one another regarding wetland drainage. Their common identity as "property owner" consolidated the power wielded locally by large farmers. It also provided an instrument (the planning document) for state and federal government agencies to enhance their power and to bring resources to the region. The planning process simultaneously ameliorated conflicts between government agencies and the large farmers, while enhancing the agencies' capacity to reclaim wetlands. In this contradictory manner, the plan promoted the environmental aims of many small-holders, and simultaneously disempowered them as actors in the region's political economy.

Date 2005
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 18
Issue 6
Pages 533-556
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1007/s10806-005-0905-y
Language English
Author Address Department of Anthropology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-4502, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Case Report
  3. Choice
  4. Conflict
  5. Corn
  6. Decision making
  7. Developed countries
  8. Farms
  9. Illinois
  10. Land management
  11. Land resources
  12. Land use
  13. natural resources
  14. North America
  15. OECD countries
  16. Ownership
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Policy and Planning
  19. politics
  20. social categories
  21. Social psychology and social anthropology
  22. United States of America
  23. water
  24. watersheds
  1. peer-reviewed