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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A Re-Assessment of Entitlement Theory in the Light of the Recent Famines in Africa
Author:Waal, Alex deISNI
Year:1990
Periodical:Development and Change
Volume:21
Issue:3
Period:July
Pages:469-490
Language:English
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:famine
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.1990.tb00384.x
Abstract:This paper reassesses the nature of famines, as conceptualized in A.K. Sen's entitlement theory ('Poverty and famines', 1981), in the light of empirical evidence concerning the recent African famines. The paper identifies two critical phenomena that entitlement theory fails to explain. First, during famines, many people choose not to consume food rather than sell vital assets. Second, most famine mortality is not directly related to undernutrition, but is caused by outbreaks of disease. Sen's more recent work on poverty provides a framework for understanding these phenomena. The price of this is that entitlements themselves form only part of a larger account of famine. Some aspects of a revised account include coping strategies of famine-affected people, social disruption, and violence. In this account, less severe famine is not theoretically distinct from acute poverty, and severe famine is distinct largely because of the severity of social collapse, which in Africa usually follows violence. Bibliogr., note.
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