7. Rural-Urban Linkages in Comparative Perspective: Labour and Land in Ghana and South Africa

Main Research Question: How do rural-urban linkages affect the bargaining power and organizational strategies of urban workers as well as the livelihoods of rural populations?

Project’s aim: Rural-urban linkages are widely acknowledged as important, but difficult to measure empirically using available data, such as household surveys or case studies of particular locations. By tracing social and economic connections across the rural-urban divide, this project aims to provide a  clearer  picture of these linkages. This will allow insights into a range of theoretical, strategic, and policy issues.

The proposed study will examine how rural-urban linkages affect the lives and livelihoods of workers and families on each end of the city-countryside divide. Rural-urban connections have long been recognized as a key feature of social and economic life for both urban workers and rural dwellers in Africa. However, in contemporary debates about precarious work in urban areas, and precarious livelihoods in rural areas, these connections are rarely given sufficient attention. We will examine South Africa and Ghana, both individually and comparatively. These are two countries with long histories of rural-urban connections, and both countries have produced classic studies of the relationship between labor, land, migration, and livelihoods. We will use in-depth interviews with multiple members of households which attempt to build comprehensive “case studies” of household livelihood strategies. In doing so we aim to trace the economic and social connections that exist both within a given area and across the rural-urban divide by interviewing both rural-based individuals and urban dwellers with direct connections to the rural areas under study. Our research will produce a clearer understanding of how rural-urban connections shape the social and economic lives of people in South Africa and Ghana. The findings will have implications for both debates about urban workers politics and organizing strategies as well as for rural dwellers well-being.

The aim is to examine how rural-urban linkages affect the lives and livelihoods of workers and families on each end of the city-countryside divide. Rural-urban connections have long been recognized as a key feature of social and economic life for both urban workers and rural dwellers in Africa. However, in contemporary debates about precarious work in urban areas, and precarious livelihoods in rural areas, these connections are rarely given sufficient attention. We will examine South Africa and Ghana, both individually and comparatively. We will use in-depth interviews with multiple members of households which attempt to build comprehensive case studies of household livelihood strategies. In doing so we aim to trace the economic and social connections that exist both within a given area and across the rural-urban divide by interviewing both rural-based individuals and urban dwellers with direct connections to the rural areas under study. Our research will produce a clearer understanding of how rural-urban connections shape the social and economic lives of people in South Africa and Ghana. The findings will have implications for debates about urban workers politics and organizing strategies as well as for rural dwellers well-being.