Managing Resources, Managing People
The Political Uses of Population

by Sarah Sexton and Nicholas Hildyard

first published 9 May 2005

Malthus's theory of population is often understood simply as "too many people" -- but who is "too many"? For Malthus, they were the labouring poor, but as different interest groups have used his theory for different reasons over the past 200 years, so the "too many" have been different as well: the "feeble-minded"; immigrants; Third World people; and old people.

This shows that population theory is, in practice, a political strategy that obscures the relationships of power between different groups in societies while at the same time justifying those relationships that allow certain groups to dominate others. These relationships are critical to the use of "resources" as they determine how people are managed and in whose interests.

This presentation was given as part of the Environmental Management for Developing Countries MSc Module at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.


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