Research at the SDC Group

The Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) group investigates the structures and practices of international development with a particular focus on issues of inequality, marginalization and political agency. Through our core expertise in development studies, political ecology, anthropology of law and crisis and disaster studies, our mission is to gain and communicate a deeper understanding of these issues generated by global and local structures of power and political-economy, as well as how actors generate forms of agency and practices that enable them to deal with these dynamics and create new opportunities. In this way, we aim to contribute to socially just, economically equitable, sustainable and peaceful solutions to twenty-first century development problems.

It is clear that processes and structures of inequality and marginalization greatly influence the quality of life for many people around the world. In other words, there can be no improvement in the quality of life if development continues to stimulate and engrain processes of inequality and marginalization, and hence it is vital to understand the structures and practices of how these processes come about; how they develop and change; and how they are resisted and responded to through forms of political agency. The SDC group focuses its scientific interest in these issues on core Wageningen themes: livelihoods, agriculture, resources and the living environment. In so doing, the group contributes to WUR’s overall mission ‘to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’ by investigating the question of who benefits from what idea of (the potential of) nature and how this changes over time and across space. Nature here is broadly defined and encompasses nonhuman ecosystems, landscapes and resources across rural and urban spaces.


Research themes

The SDC research programme is operationalised through three distinct yet interrelated core themes:

  1. Resources, rights and livelihoods: Explores the dynamic interactions between resources and their exploitation, domination and conservation. With resources we refer to land, food, minerals and the environment but also to knowledge, information and heritage. This theme foregrounds contestations over resources and how these are created and framed through global structures of neoliberal governance, legal and extra-legal frameworks and lived realities.
  2. Crisis, reordering and resilience: Engages with change and re-ordering of society associated with crises and disasters and their aftermath in which new linkages, institutions and livelihoods may develop. Crises and natural or human-made disasters are seen as complex processes of reordering with historical, present and future dimensions rather than unproblematic, manageable routines of ‘disaster risk reduction’, ‘relief’ and ‘reconstruction’.
  3. Reassessing divides and boundaries: Focuses on the material and discursive dynamics that change old divides and bring about new ones. We study how (ontological, epistemological, empirical or other) boundaries are shaped, steered, used, strengthened or weakened; divides such as global-local, urban-rural, powerful-marginalized, whole-parts, developed-undeveloped, crisis-normality. Divides and boundaries are operationalised and studied on all levels, including practical material levels and on the level of knowledge and science, in order to understand their practical, epistemological and ontological consequences for broader process and structures of development and change.


PhD research

PhD research is a central component of the SDC group’s overall research agenda. SDC research currently includes the following PhD projects:

  1. Aberese, Aberese
    Frontline health worker motivation, morale and attitude on quality of maternal and child health service provision
  2. Akiboye, Akin
    Rural resettlements in post-apartheid South-Africa
  3. Ange, Olivia
    Cultural and Bio-diversity Protection through heritage policies. Andean potatoes’ regimes of value in protected areas and beyond
  4. Bashwira, Rose
    Gender and mining reforms in eastern DRC
  5. Cháves, Martha
    From visions to realities: The eco-village movement in Colombia
  6. Chenier, Jacqueline
    Technified peasant production as an alternative for achieving food sovereignty: The case of staple grain, panela and casabe production in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti and Colombia as a strategy for peasant reassertion
  7. Chikulo, Shiela
    Fresh fruit and vegetable marketing in Zimbabwe: Fast track land reform and new markets
  8. Conteh, Ibrahim
    Education in flood-affected Mozambique
  9. Djindil, Nakar
    Food insecurity and vulnerability: The long-term effects of ecological and political stress in the Sahel. The case of the Guera in Central Chad
  10. Draper, Malcom
    The soul of the soil
  11. Engel, Karen
    The role of disaster culture in Chili
  12. Gbehi, Clément
    The social organization of farm innovation: Knowledge systems, commoditization and research networks in Benin
  13. Geerling, Hilde
    Household vulnerability and the Productive Safety Net Programme in northern Ethiopia
  14. Ghimire, Luna K.C.
    Gender relations and post-conflict reconstruction in Nepal
  15. Goldfarb, Lucia
    Soy expansion and social conflict in Argentina
  16. Justin, Peter
    Armed conflict induced displacement and land governance in Yie county, South-Sudan
  17. Kingma, Koos
    Pathways of rural change. Interplay of livelihoods, gender and policies during the last 25 years in Lubaga, Tanzania
  18. Kobusingye, Doreen
    Embedding land conflict: Decentralized land governance and conflict transformation in Northern Uganda
  19. Koduah, Augustina
    Health policy and communication networks in Ghana’s health service
  20. Kronenburg, Angela
    Co-management of the Naimina Enkiyio forest in Loita Maasai, Kenya: Conflicts, outside intervention and local dynamics of change and continuity
  21. Kwami, Aku
    Emerging in the middle: Continuous quality improvements for managerial decision-making in maternal and child health policy implementation in Ghana
  22. Lubilo, Rodgers
    The problem of community in CBNRM, Caprivi, Namibia
  23. Man, Rens de
    Effectiveness of the millennium development goals towards food security: Assessing the interplay between institutions
  24. Medard, Modesta
    The transformation of Lake Victoria’s fisheries landscape
  25. Méndez, Raquel
    Large scale resource extraction and the violation of women’s and children’s rights in Santander, Colombia
  26. Morales, Carlos
    Networks around risk management in Central America
  27. Musalem, Nasim
    Colour Green for Dollars. Bottlenecks for the establishment of commercial initiatives for Chamaedorea palm fronds in Veracruz, Mexico
  28. Mutahara, Mahmuda
    Multi-stakeholder mapping processes in Tidal Flood Management in coastal Bangladesh
  29. Ndiame, Fadel
    Agrarian Change and the peasantry in the Casamance, Senegal
  30. Olde Heuvelt, Francine
    The role of identity construction within the organisational practices and social mobilisation of the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST)
  31. Overbeek, Fons van
    Livelihood practices within hybrid governance: Local negotiations to the threat of land scarcity in expanding urban areas of Bukavu
  32. Pauwelussen, Annet
    Realities under construction: Exploring complexity in the building of marine Protected Areas in Indonesia
  33. Peña, Clara
    Farmers’ perceptions and actual use of the fertility of Terra Preta soils in Colombia
  34. Reyes, Virgilio
    Intervention processes in Guatemala
  35. Reyna, Oscar
    Mineral conflicts and environmental issues in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
  36. Rossell, Nuria
    The abandonment of treatment in children and adolescents in El Salvador
  37. Salomao, Alda
    Negotiations around commercial investments in land in Mozambique
  38. Servín, Fidencio
    Going for the bucks: Organizational processes emerging from rural policy interventions in Zacapu, Mexico
  39. Srikandini, Annisa Gita
    Building resilient communities through disaster diplomacy: Comparing Indonesia and Myanmar
  40. Staveren, Martijn van
    The ‘greening’ of flood defense in the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Vietnam
  41. Tander, Nienke
    The different faces of standards in the cashew chain India-The Netherlands
  42. Tchtachoua, Rosine
    Shifting Legitimacies: Decentralized land governance and legal pluralism in Burundi
  43. Tumer, Nuray
    Processes of multiple identifications of Turkish migrants in The Netherlands
  44. Umans, Laurent
    International Policy Cooperation
  45. Vasconcelos, Nicolás
    Ecological support systems for small scale cattle farmers in Ecuador
  46. Vermeij, Lotte
    Socialization of child soldiers in Africa
  47. Verschuuren, Bas
    The growing cultural and spiritual significance of nature: An exploration of the role of sacred natural sites in conservation practice, management and policy
  48. Vos, Rosa de
    The politics of scale in palm oil disputes in West Kalimantan, Indonesia
  49. Wegerif, Marc
    Feeding the city: the case of Dar-Es-Salaam
  50. Wood, Allan
    Local agricultural production as a potential contributor to urban food security in the Colombian Amazon
  51. Yevoo, Lucy
    The influence of clinical decision-making support networks on frontline providers decision-making in Ghana
  52. Zenteno, Cecilia
    The political and territorial significance of women organisations in Bolivia