Relational Pathways

Date: October 2016 – September 2019

Pathways into and out of poverty are complex. In the 21st century, global poverty is compounded by climate change, conflict and inequality, as well as social exclusion by gender, race, and class.

This project aims to understand the pathways in and out of poverty for farmers in Kenya and India, and explore their collective capacity to bring about transformative change. Arguably, farmer-led transformations on the farm and the market were critical in the Asian ‘Green Revolutions’, from the 1960s onwards. Although ‘Green Revolution’ approaches have been tried elsewhere, they have not always succeeded.

The research will develop concepts and methods for an innovative ‘relational agency pathways approach’, drawing on Science, Technology and Society studies and the STEPS pathways approach.

Project leaflet (PDF)


Policy briefing: Agricultural policy-making in Kenya: why must smallholder farmers’ agency be made central?
Frederick Ajwang, Joanes Atela and Saurabh Arora
August 2019

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Working Paper: People’s Relational Agency in Confronting Exclusion in Rural  South India
Saurabh Arora, Ajit Menon, M. Vijaybaskar, Divya Sharma and V. Gajendran
December 2021

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Blog Posts

What is revolutionary about the Green Revolution?
Divya Sharma, 17 June 2019

Could Kenya’s local flour mills be an early warning system for famine?
Frederick Ajwang, 8th March 2019

Uncovering Transgressive Solidarities
Divya Sharma, 27 June 2018

Contextualising life histories in Tamil Nadu
Divya Sharma and V. Gajendran, 1 June 2018

What role does rural people’s agency play in finding pathways out of poverty?
Saurabh Arora, Divya Sharma, M. Vijaybaskar, Ajit Menon and Joanes Atela
24 April 2018

Locations and methods

The project team will use mixed methods (ethnographic life histories, archival data and Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM) to trace and assess relational pathways into and out of poverty constituted by changing technologies, natural resources and social worlds, as experienced by people of different genders and castes, in Tamil Nadu, India.

The approach will be tested and further developed in the field in Machakos County in Kenya, where several attempts have been made to get a Green Revolution off the ground, but none are considered successful.


The project is funded by the ESRC-DFID Joint Poverty Alleviation Scheme.

Project team

Contact: [email protected]

Image: Goat herding in Tansi Nagar / McKay Savage, Flickr (cc by 2.0)

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