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The Flow of Peasant Lives: a board game to simulate livelihood strategies and trajectories resulting from complex rural household decisions

Luis García-Barrios, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Dirección Regional Sureste, México
Tlacaelel Rivera-Núñez, Departamento de Agricultura, Sociedad y Ambiente, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad San Cristóbal
Juana Cruz-Morales, Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo, Campus Chiapas, México
Jorge Urdapilleta-Carrasco, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Dirección Regional Sureste, México
Elizabeth Castro-Salcido, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Dirección Regional Sureste, México
Ivett Peña-Azcona, Departamento de Agricultura, Sociedad y Ambiente, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad San Cristóbal
Oscar Martínez-López, Departamento de Agricultura, Sociedad y Ambiente, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad San Cristóbal
Angelita López-Cruz, Investigadora independiente
Merci Morales, Facultad de Ingeniería Agroindustrial, Universidad Politécnica de Tapachula
Jorge Espinoza, Facultad de Ingeniería Agroindustrial, Universidad Politécnica de Tapachula

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11723-250448

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Abstract

Since the 1990s, many of neoliberalism’s policies for growth and development have contributed to the deterioration of living conditions for rural peasants who are marginalized and unwilling or unable to abandon their lands. In every nation in which this phenomenon is prevalent, the resulting impoverishment of rural peasants has motivated numerous academic studies and poverty-alleviation programs. Concurrently, peasants have been developing and modifying their strategies for social reproduction, under conditions that are usually uncertain and restrictive. Here, we describe the design and implementation of a serious board game called The Flow of Peasant Lives (TFPL). TFPL is a complex but player-friendly game that was developed and parameterized using information and first-hand knowledge that the authors gained through 15 years of interaction and discussion with peasant residents of La Sepultura Man in the Biosphere-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico. The game was implemented in November 2017 in workshops held in six rural communities in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, Mexico. During the workshops, 126 participants made 21,600 recorded decisions about capacity allocations during 393 simulated years of rural life. Strategies followed by members of rural households (as a team) led the game along ascendant, descendant, and oscillatory trajectories in the reproduction of capabilities, as is actually the case in rural life contexts. The great majority of academic approaches seeks to influence the transformation of rural life starting from preconceived notions about peasants’ needs. In contrast, TFPL is a social-immanent learning tool that provides a safe, fun venue where rural households can make their realities explicit, exchange ideas, explore possibilities for action, and discuss what needs to be changed. It has great potential for transfer to other rural contexts because it balances research components that are nomothetic (general) with ones that are ideographic (particular).

Key words

immanent social learning; livelihoods; rural households; serious board game; social reproduction; transferability

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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