Farmers Organising in Singapore

Farmers in Singapore? Collective Action under Adverse Circumstances” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2020.1734646) is a new article authored by Yu Fong Ho and John A. Donaldson of the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University.

The abstract for the paper states:

How can individuals with contrasting interests in a declining industry, at odds with the country’s identity, and facing an illiberal and sceptical government, band together to promote collective goals? This article addresses this question by examining Singapore’s Kranji Countryside Association, one of Singapore’s few civil society organisations to focus on community organising. To Association members, the material and time costs of organising were high, the odds of success were low and the material rewards of success were modest. The article evaluates two views that purport to explain collective action: the rational choice approach that focuses on selective incentives and the social-psychological approach that emphasises non-excludable collective incentives and collective identity. It is concluded that while selective incentives were necessary for attracting several non-active members to fill out the ranks of the organisation, the rational choice approach cannot explain the group’s initial establishment or why some members have been especially active. For this, social-psychological factors were vital to both building and sustaining the organisation. The results illuminate collective action in Singapore’s illiberal context and enhance our understanding of the state’s dilemmas in managing civil society.

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