Jaquelin Cochran & Isha Ray
World Development, 37: 435 – 444
Publication year: 2009


Equity is central to community-based development efforts, but community perspectives on equity are seldom examined in the development literature. This study investigates how equity in a rainwater harvesting program is understood, and practiced in two Rajasthani communities. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic capital, we find that the symbolic capital accrued from contributing to the project is as central to community understandings of equity as the distribution of benefits from the project. We find that a continuing sense of community despite heterogeneity is itself a form of symbolic capital. Community-based valuations of equity thus enable a more catholic approach to costs, and benefits that broadens our knowledge both of equity, and of development.