Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Socioliogy, University of Wisconsin / Madison
Common Property Tenure Institutions: Potentials for Land Reform in South Africa

This research will examine the common property tenure institutions that are being developed by beneficiaries of the South African land reform program. The program provides a unique opportunity to examine the potentials and limitations of common property tenure institutions for achieving land reform objectives of tenure security, poverty alleviation, and economic growth. A knowledge gap exists regarding the potentials and limitations of common property tenure institutions because, historically, land reform programs (which have generally failed) have focused on efforts to replace community-based systems. Over a twelve month period, I will conduct in-depth case studies in four communities that establish common property rights to land. I will employ several field research methods: historical and archival analysis, informal and semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and surveys. I will examine differences among the common property tenure institutions in order to identify how they work, which are more socially and economically beneficial, and what about their construction makes them more beneficial. The study will generate new knowledge about common property regimes and advance theoretical debates about land reform, rural development, and collective social action. The results have potential to improve land policy and contribute to rural development in South Africa as well as in many other contexts where land reform, rural development, land conflict resolution, and settlement of uprooted populations is essential.