Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Sustainable Livelihood Framework: A Reconstruction

Mensah, Emmanuel Joseph (2011): The Sustainable Livelihood Framework: A Reconstruction. Published in: The Development Review , Vol. 1, No. 1 (October 2012): pp. 7-24.


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This paper provides a new construction of the Sustainable Livelihood Framework. Underlying the need for this reconstruction is the persisting argument that the framework is too micro, too household focused, thereby limiting its utility as a micro-macro analytical tool for policy analysis and impact evaluation. In so doing, this paper elaborated assets in the framework on the basis of the degree of user rights that households are able to exercise rather than the form in which they exist. The paper also introduced the concept of relative cumulative effect to present more rigorous understanding of households’ influence on society’s sustainable development trajectory. On these bases, sustainable livelihood is theorized as endogenously determined by the balance between households’ livelihood expectations and the evolutionary path that institutions follow as they respond to households’ cumulative feedback. This framework thus provide a context for providing household-based understanding of institutional evolution and livelihood formation vis-à-vis micro/macro-interventions.

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