The Example of Laikipia


In order to illustrate the theoretical framework for interpreting peasants' action and rationale of action outlined above, the next exercise "puts them into practice".

In the following exercise, you shall be asked to apply the outlined meta-theory to an example of a specific peasant action and explain what impact this single action has or could have on the whole strategy of a peasant household.


  1. You must first have read the text about smallholders in Laikipia (Laikipia Fact Sheet).
  2. Watch the video sequence (link in the media column on the right) and find out which specific action in the household strategy the peasant is talking about. If you have not, download and read the Laikipia Fact Sheet in the right hand column:
  3. Establish a set of keywords relating to the action and place them in the five columns in the Answer Sheet (to be downloaded in the right hand column) according to what they relate in the model of action. Print out your sheet.
  4. Pick the particular column (Meaning, Means, Activities, Outcome, Objectives) which is currently undergoing change according to the information given by the peasant in the film sequence.
  5. Interpret the 'meaning' of this concrete action of the peasant woman in regard to Wiesmann's (1998) concept of utility as outlined above.
  6. Then interpret this single action of the peasant household in the context of the whole strategy: what impact does it have on the overall household strategy? If necessary, seek help from the graphics in the right-hand column.
  7. Discuss interpretations within the group and give your solutions on a print-out (maximum half a page in Arial 12).

Once you have finished the exercise download the solution by clicking on the link in the right-hand column:

The flaw of this focus on individuals' rationale of action is that peasants are not single, independent utility-optimising units! They are "embedded" ... but this is another story, which will be dealt with in a later lesson.

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