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Hadley, Philip Anthony (2023) Building Co-operation in Farmer Collectives and across ‘Value’ Chains: Institutional Dynamics and Power Relations in Central India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores processes of co-operative institution building in rural development in central India, with specific regard to farmer producer companies (FPCs), a form of ‘new generation’ co-operative-company hybrid, as well as the organic cotton supply chains in which they operate. There is a dearth of literature on FPCs of an ethnographic or sociological basis, which explores, in the words of co-operative scholars Attwood and Baviskar, the “deeper processes (the informal organisation of conflicts and alliances)” (Attwood and Baviskar, 1987, p. A-57). Prevailing approaches in literature and policy draw on economistic conceptions of co-operation based in new institutional economics and management-oriented literature. In such approaches, the role of FPCs is primarily to reduce ‘transaction costs’ and achieve ‘market access’ for smallholder famers, with panacea-esque narratives of their role in providing the ‘solution’ to the ‘problems’ of co-operative societies. Through analysis of thirteen months of fieldwork, largely in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh (MP), I present an ethnography of my role as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) volunteer working with FPCs, as well as through qualitative research with FPC farmer members and leaders, development workers and individuals from companies working in organic cotton supply chains. Building on approaches which explore the differential representation (and transformation) of institutional norms, vis-à-vis (social) power relations (Mosse, 2005, 2006; Cleaver, 2012; Baviskar 2004), I examine FPCs within a wider ‘web’ of institutional and social relations. I explore the manner in which dominant approaches to co-operation (and the primacy of ‘design’ (Shah, 2006)), are both reproduced and contested by fieldwork participants in the work of ‘translating’ (Latour, 1996), co-operative action. I consider such processes vis-à-vis the work of ‘building FPCs’, organisational hierarchies, the ‘politics’ of FPCs, social (caste, Adivasi) relations, and, in efforts to build forms of ‘partnership’ and co-operation across supply or ‘value’ chains.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Subir Sinha and David Mosse
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2023 16:14
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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