Namika Raby
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‘Rules are weapons’
Can F. G. Bailey’s toolbox aid our understanding of irrigation bureaucracies?
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This chapter approaches bureaucracies as mechanistic systems struggling to perform functions that are suited to entrepreneurial styles of modern management. In resource-scarce communities facing droughts or poverty, the system functions in an environment of uncertainty or dynamism. As a result, such bureaucracies must wrestle with choice among normative, strategic, and pragmatic rules (Treason, Stratagems, and Spoils 2001) of their institutions in order to cope with influences coming from the top down, from the state, and from the bottom up, from community-based organizations. This choice among normative, pragmatic, and strategic rules by the bureaucracy is the ad hoc response to the asymmetrical flow of information resulting from the contingencies thrust upon them by the politicians and or the ordinary people. Case studies from the internationally implemented Participatory Irrigation Management Program in Sri Lanka, India and the Philippines and the Quantification Settlement Agreement in Imperial Valley, California, are used to illustrate how these choices result in different outcomes at variance to the original goals.

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The anthropology of power, agency, and morality

The enduring legacy of F. G. Bailey

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