Ethnographic solutions to inequalities in South Asian advicescapes
This project led by Professor David Lewis is part of the Atlantic Equity Challenge organised by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity.
The provision of business advice is an important, yet little studied, aspect of contemporary social and economic change in the Global South, with important implications for the reproduction of rural-urban and social inequalities. An extensive industry of business advice-giving exists in South Asia, involving public and non-governmental sectors, and increasingly, private firms. This shift reflects a growing private sector emphasis in development, towards economic growth driven initiatives, entrepreneurship, and a focus on small and medium enterprises. This transformation has altered streams of business advice and finance: steering microfinance into business finance, and shifting informal lending towards formal debt.
The context for this study is the expanding un- and under-employed youth demographic that exists against the backdrop of business and entrepreneurship that is increasingly central to development initiatives. The focus of the study is the practice of giving business advice to young people aged 18 to 25 as potential entrepreneurs. Such advicescapes are more complex than they appear to formal advice-delivery agents, and entangle kin, religious leaders and elders as informal advice agents as well. The presence of discriminatory practices in advicescapes are less visible to these formal advice providers, who may be unwitting perpetrators of bias. Attitudes and other subtle aspects are neither monitored nor measured. These issues lend themselves to the ethnographic approach to be taken in the proposed research. The project’s overarching research question is: “Can entrepreneurial advice-giving address inequalities of access and outcome for young people in rural and urban south Asia?”
Read more about the project here
Social media and the crisis of urban inequality: transnational analyses of humanitarian responses across the Middle East, South Asia and Africa
This project led by Dr Romola Sanyal is part of the Atlantic Equity Challenge organised by the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity.
Spanning three sites in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, this project will examine how social media is used to navigate the terrain between humanitarianism and inequality in the Global South. Inequality should not only be studied in humanitarian crisis settings, but should itself be seen as a humanitarian crisis, especially in cities. The inequality of the social and legal conditions of the urban poor, migrants and refugees, which limit their access to jobs and housing, are multidimensional, produced vertically through income/wealth, horizontally through ethnic identity, migration status, gender and age, and through space and institutional practices.
The project will consider how social and communications media play a key role in alleviating and exacerbating inequalities. Social and communications media are tools of self-organisation that help displaced people and migrants arrive in cities, and access housing, jobs and transportation. But they also entrench inequalities, with a disconnect between the kinds of information that migrants, displaced and other community members receive and that are available to civil society, state and humanitarian actors. Thus information and communication can shape support and livelihoods, and also continue the exclusion of people as surplus populations. This role of social media as both enabler and excluder in conditions of crises remains underresearched, and is an area requiring policy development to improve rapid responses to urban shocks.
Read more about the project here