Class Conflict and Rural Development: An Ethnographic Analysis of Traditional Title Dispute in Southern Nigeria
Since the 1970s, rural development has occupied the centre stage in development policy and discourse in the developing countries. This was a rational response to the fact that majority of the populations in the region live in rural areas. More significantly, for most of the countries, the inherited pattern of urban-based capitalist development reproduced underdevelopment especially in the forms of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Even so, the goals of rural development practice are often times compromised by factors unforeseen by policy makers. One such factor which is invariably lost in official circles is social structural. Based on an empirical investigation, this paper focuses on class struggle in a rural community in southern Nigeria as veritable obstacle to rural development. Our data renders jejune the erstwhile romantic conception of traditional (rural) African communities as free of class distinctions. The manifestations and ramifications of the class struggle are presented as defeating the goals of rural development. A major policy implication is that the narrow conception of rural development as the extension of „urban infrastructure. to rural areas is inappropriate. To effectively deliver the goals of rural development, policy must focus on social currents. Ruralites and their weltanschaung must be considered as part of the new approach to development.
Key Words: Social Class, Political hegemony, Traditional Society, Chieftaincy Titles.
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