| By Anthony Bebbington | Published in World Development Vol. 27(12); 2021-2044 |

Abstract: On the basis of themes emerging in current debates on rural development in Latin America, this paper develops an analytical framework for analyzing rural livelihoods in terms of their sustainability and their implications for rural poverty. The framework argues that our analyses of rural livelihoods need to understand them in terms of: (a) people’s access to five types of capital asset; (b) the ways in which they combine and transform those assets in the building of livelihoods that as far as possible meet their material and their experiential needs; (c) the ways in which people are able to expand their asset bases through engaging with other actors through relationships governed by the logics of the state, market and civil society; and (d) the ways in which they are able to deploy and enhance their capabilities both to make living more meaningful and to change the dominant rules and relationships governing the ways in which resources are controlled, distributed and transformed in society. Particular attention is paid to the importance of social capital as an asset through which people are able to widen their access to resources and other actors.