Livelihoods approaches emerged from a broad range of efforts to understand how people live in particular places. They have since cohered into often instrumentally applied frameworks that rest on the broadly held assumption that livelihoods are principally about the management of one’s material circumstances. This assumption limits the explanatory power of livelihoods approaches by shifting a range of motivations for livelihoods decisions outside the analytic frame. This article extends efforts to recover a broader lens on livelihoods decisions and outcomes by conceptualising livelihoods as forms of intimate government, local efforts to shape conduct to definite, shifting, and sometimes contradictory material and social ends. By employing a Foucault - inspired analytics of government to the study of livelihoods in Ghana’s Central Region, the paper presents a systematic, implementable approach to the examination of livelihoods and their outcomes in light of this reframing, one where material outcomes are one of many possible ends of intimate government, instead of the end. By opening the analytic lens in this manner, we can explain a much wider set of livelihoods outcomes and decisions than possible under contemporary approaches.

Carr, Edward R. (2013). Livelihoods as Intimate Government: Rethinking the Logic of Livelihoods for Development. Third World Quarterly, 34 (1) 77-108.

Livelihoods as Intimate Government: Rethinking the Logic of Livelihoods for Development

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