The Illusion of Capitalism in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of the Gambia

14 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2015

See all articles by Abdoulie Sallah

Abdoulie Sallah

Coventry University

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to evaluate critically the meta-narrative that there is no alternative to capitalism. Building upon an emerging body of post-structuralist thought that has begun deconstructing this discourse in relation to western economies and post-Soviet societies, this paper further extends this critique to Sub-Saharan Africa by investigating the degree to which people in the Gambia rely on the capitalist market economy for their livelihood. Reporting the results of 80 household face-to-face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non-market economic practices. The outcome is a call to re-think the lived practices of economic transition in Sub-Saharan Africa in general and the Gambia in particular, so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond capitalist hegemony.

Design/methodology/approach – Some 80 households (involving over 500 people) were interviewed face-to-face on their livelihood coping strategies.

Findings – Reporting the results of 80 household face-to-face interviews (involving over 500 people), the finding is that only a small minority of households in contemporary Gambian society rely on the formal market economy alone to secure their livelihood and that the vast majority depend on a plurality of market and non-market economic practices.

Practical implications – The outcome is a call to re-think the lived practices of economic transition in Sub-Saharan Africa in general and the Gambia in particular, so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond capitalist hegemony.

Originality/value – This research gives us an empirical understanding of the implications of lived experiences of people’s day-to-day livelihood coping strategies, which refutes the capitalist’s thesis and calls of a re-think on economic and sustainable development policies and strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: Market economy, Developing economies, informal sector, informal economy, The Gambia, Africa

JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Sallah, Abdoulie and Williams, Colin, The Illusion of Capitalism in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of the Gambia (2011). Foresight, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 50-63, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2703000

Abdoulie Sallah

Coventry University ( email )

Priory Street
Coventry, CV1 5FB
United Kingdom

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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