Between structure and agency: Livelihoods and adaptation in Ghana’s Central Region

This article examines adaptation decision-making through a diversified livelihoods strategy that distributes risk across market and subsistence production in Ghana’s Central Region. Specifically, it asks how this strategy, which is an adaptation to a relatively recent convergence of economic and environmental uncertainty in this context, is accepted and reproduced by society at large, even as this adaptation results in unevenly distributed benefits and costs. An examination of the case in question suggests that the persistence of this adaptation has little to do with its material outcomes. This adaptation persists because, despite its unequal and less-than-optimal material outcomes, it is rooted in the ability of men to link this adaptation to existing gender roles, thereby legitimizing the adaptation and the gendered roles it relies upon. This finding calls into question the very idea of a successful adaptation, and suggests that much more attention must be paid to the persistence of particular adaptations if we are to understand existing adaptations and build upon them to enhance local capacities for managing economic and environmental change.

<< Back