Examining recent momentous changes in rural Vietnam, this article contends that many rural development policies implemented by the state and international development agencies adopt criteria of progress that are inappropriate to the situation and needs of rural people. However, far from being left entirely bereft by the failures of official development schemes, rural people in Vietnam have access to an alternative set of resources and strategies to improve their lives. Using examples from the Mekong Delta, the article demonstrates that these resources and strategies help rural people realize a quality of life that is engaged, modern, and viable.

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