UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social inequality and resource management : gender, caste and class in the rural Himalayas Tsering, Tashi


The management of irrigation water and other resources, as practiced by traditional farming communities in developing countries, is often presented as a model of an equitable system – especially when compared to systems managed by states. This study demonstrates that the resource management practices in two Himalayan farming communities are, in fact, inequitable in terms of local gender, caste and class roles. This thesis examines inequalities in the social organization of irrigation systems in two villages in Spiti Valley in India’s Himachal Pradesh state. Its key finding is that the social organization of irrigation management, particularly in terms of farmers’ gender, class and caste backgrounds, is best understood as part of a broader division of labor for farming and related resources (such as for the management of fodder, dung and firewood), which are all embedded in the local socio-economic structure. This finding, which is based on participatory observation and interviews with farmers, as well as an analysis of historical and legal documents, underlines the importance of studying management of different resource sectors relationally rather than compartmentally. In particular, this study identifies key functional linkages between the social organization of farming and different resource sectors and develops theoretical approaches to the study of resource management in rural communities.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada