Vietnam’s New Rural Development program envisages the creation of a newly modern rural Vietnam. Drawing on fieldwork, this paper argues that the program has had little bearing on peasant livelihood strategies. The emergence of deagrarianization has not arisen as a result of the program but because of household interest in maintaining a diverse set of income activities. These two contrasting rural realities—the advance of deagrarianization against a backdrop of continued subsistence farming—coexist and are mutually supportive. Peasant livelihood diversification strategies have been perpetuated without much attention to broader state-led initiatives aimed at “reforming” the countryside.
Retaining the Old Countryside, Embracing the New Countryside: Vietnam’s New Rural Development Program
Tuan Anh Nguyen is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Sociology, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University, Hà Nội. He was awarded his PhD from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Free University Amsterdam, in 2010. His work focuses on social capital, social change in northern Vietnamese villages, adaptation to climate change, social policy, and social security in Vietnam.
Jamie Gillen is Director and Senior Lecturer in the Global Studies Programme at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He writes about tourism, cultural politics, entrepreneurialism, urbanization, fieldwork, agrarian livelihoods, and increasingly rural-urban relations, primarily in Vietnam.
Jonathan Rigg is Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. He was formerly Director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Rural Development in Southeast Asia: Dispossession, Accumulation and Persistence (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and More Than Rural: Textures of Thailand’s Agrarian Transformation (Hawai‘i University Press, 2019).
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Tuan Anh Nguyen, Jamie Gillen, Jonathan Rigg; Retaining the Old Countryside, Embracing the New Countryside: Vietnam’s New Rural Development Program. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 August 2021; 16 (3): 77–110. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2021.16.3.77
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