Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development

  • Published 01/08/15
  • ISBN: 9781853398759

livelihoodscoverBy Ian Scoones

Practical Action Publishing
August 2015

An Open Access e-book is available.


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Medios de vida sostenible y desarrollo rural (Spanish version) – buy from ICARIA

The message of Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development is clear: livelihoods approaches are an essential lens on questions of rural development, but these need to be situated in a better understanding of political economy.

The book looks at the role of social institutions and the politics of policy, as well as issues of identity, gender and generation. The relationships between sustainability and livelihoods are examined, and the book situates livelihoods analysis within a wider political economy of environmental and agrarian change.

Four dimensions of a new politics of livelihoods are suggested: a politics of interests, individuals, knowledge and ecology. Together, these suggest new ways of conceptualizing rural and agrarian issues, with profound implications for both thinking and action.


1 Livelihoods Perspectives: A Brief History

2 Livelihoods, Poverty and Wellbeing

3 Livelihoods Frameworks and Beyond

4 Access and Control: Institutions, Organizations and Policy Processes

5 Livelihoods, the Environment and Sustainability

6 Livelihoods and Political Economy

7 Asking the Right Questions: An Extended Livelihoods Approach

8 Methods for Livelihoods Analysis

9 Bringing Politics Back In: New Challenges for Livelihoods Perspectives


‘This is an extraordinarily important book. It should become a classic. It is a must for every development professional. It is a masterly analysis and overview of the evolution and dimensions of the sustainable livelihoods approach, and opens up new territory of political economy, political ecology and a new politics of livelihoods. Concise yet comprehensive, combining and drawing on the perspectives of many disciplines, accessible to all readers, professionally impeccable, and on top of all this, original in its analysis and extension into new fields, this book is a wonderful contribution to development thinking and action. May it be very widely read, and may it be very influential.’
Robert Chambers, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

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