The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 564–581 | Cite as

Variations of Late Socialist Development: Integration and Marginalization in the Northern Uplands of Vietnam and Laos

  • Rupert FriederichsenEmail author
  • Andreas Neef
Original Article


This article analyzes the dynamics of integration and marginalization inherent in the development process experienced by the rural upland areas of Vietnam and Lao PDR. Focusing on the post-1980s reform period, we compare the two uplands areas along the three themes ethnic difference and hierarchy, development policies and market permeation. In both countries, the low and differential status of ethnic minorities is reflected in policy formulation and implementation, contradicting the official rhetoric and goal of unity and equality among ethnic groups. Market influences are increasingly permeating the uplands of both countries although to varying degrees, connecting them with not only national, but also global commodity markets, and leading to increasing differentiation within and between ethnic groups. These development trajectories integrate and marginalize ethnic minority groups and individuals simultaneously but differentially.

Cet article analyse les dynamiques d’intégration et de marginalisation liées au processus de développement qui a lieu dans les régions rurales montagneuses du Vietnam et du Laos. En nous concentrant sur la période de réformes postérieure aux années 80, nous effectuons une comparaison de deux régions montagneuses, autour de trois thèmes: différences ethniques et hiérarchie, politiques de développement, et pénétration de marché. Dans les deux pays, la situation– généralement défavorable– des minorités ethniques se reflète dans la formulation et la mise en œuvre des politiques, ce qui contredit le discours et l’objectif officiel de promotion de l’unité et de l’égalité entre les différents groupes ethniques. De plus, l’influence du marché se fait de plus en plus sentir dans les régions montagneuses des deux pays – bien qu’à des degrés différents – ce qui les met en contact avec des marchés non seulement nationaux mais aussi internationaux, et accroît de ce fait la différenciation tant au sein qu’entre les différents groupes ethniques. Ces trajectoires de développement intègrent et marginalisent les minorités ethniques et les individus de manière simultanée mais différenciée.


integration marginalization uplands Vietnam Lao PDR rural development 



The financial support of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) for conducting the field research in Vietnam is gratefully acknowledged. The field research in Laos was made possible through a grant from the Centre of Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, and the Eiselen Foundation Ulm, Germany. We are also thankful for the financial and logistic support provided by IP-Consult, Stuttgart and the German Agency of Technical Cooperation (GTZ) during the fieldwork in Laos. The quality of this article has greatly benefited from the constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchester
  2. 2.Kyushu UniversityFukuoka

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