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Brittany Bunce

Research Associate


Brittany completed her PhD at PLAAS and was supervised by Professor Ben Cousins. Her PhD research focused on agricultural investments in the form of ‘joint ventures’ between small farmers and agribusiness firms in South Africa’s communal areas. The research investigated the impacts of the joint venture model on livelihoods, land rights and use and agrarian change, and engaged with key debates regarding the dynamics of class formation in the former ‘homelands’ of South Africa. Brittany also has an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BSocSci in History and Politics from the University of Cape Town.

Prior to joining PLAAS Brittany worked for a number of civil society organisations and conducted evaluations of government programmes in her capacity as a research consultant. One of the evaluations she was involved with was the ‘Implementation Evaluation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP)’ for the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). Brittany also worked for the Black Sash as Project Manager for an action research project focused on strengthening the role of Community Health Committees in monitoring the public health system in rural areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Brittany’s primary field of expertise is focused on the political economy of agrarian change, inclusive business models and rural livelihoods. However, she has also gained a wide range of expertise beyond this through her work as a project manager and researcher in the fields of public health, gender and development, refugees and migration and youth development. She is interested in research approaches which employ a transdisciplinary approach to understanding complex social realities and which are capable of producing informed and practical policy advice. Her current research broadly explores the implications of agricultural investments for processes of agrarian change.

Research Focus

The political economy of agrarian change, rural livelihoods, social differentiation, poverty and inequality, inclusive business models.


  • PhD in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (University of the Western Cape).
  • MSc in Social Policy and Development (London School of Economics and Political Science).
  • BSocSci in History and Politics (University of Cape Town)

Selected Publications

  • Mtero, F., Bunce, B., Cousins, B., Dubb, A and Hornby, D. 2019. “Investigating class relations in rural South Africa: ‘a rich totality of many determinations”, in A. Mezzadri (ed) Marx in the field: Categories, Methods and Fieldwork for the Study of Global Development. London: Anthem press.
  • Bunce, B and Hornby, D. 2019. “Navigating the contradictions of capitalist agricultural production on land reform farms in South Africa”, (forthcoming publication)
  • Bunce, B. 2018. “Agricultural Investments in the Communal Areas of the Eastern Cape: The Impacts of Joint Ventures on Livelihoods and Land Rights”, PhD thesis, University of the Western Cape.
  • Bunce, B. 2018. “A Class-Analytic Approach to Agricultural Joint Ventures in the Communal Areas of South Africa”, STEPS Working Paper 103, Brighton: STEPS Centre.
  • Bunce, B. 2017. “Agricultural Investments in South Africa and The Agrarian Question of Labour”, Conference Paper No. 48, The 5th International Conference of the BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies, 13-16 October 2017, RANEPA, Moscow, Russia.