What is it about?

This paper aims to evaluate critically the meta-narrative that there is no alternative to capitalism. Building upon an emerging body of post-structuralist thought that has begun deconstructing this discourse in relation to western economies and post-Soviet societies, this paper further extends this critique to Sub-Saharan Africa by investigating the degree to which people in the Gambia rely on the capitalist market economy for their livelihood. Reporting the results of 80 household face-to-face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non-market economic practices. The outcome is a call to re-think the lived practices of economic transition in Sub-Saharan Africa in general and the Gambia in particular, so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond capitalist hegemony.

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Why is it important?

Reporting the results of 80 household face-to-face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non-market economic practices.

Perspectives

This research gives us an empirical understanding of the implications of lived experiences of people’s day-to-day livelihood coping strategies, which refutes the capitalist’s thesis and calls of a re-think on economic and sustainable development policies and strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: The illusion of capitalism in contemporary Sub‐Saharan Africa: a case study of the Gambia, foresight, May 2011, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/14636681111138767.
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