Economic Reconfiguration: Emergent Social Differentiation
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This chapter undertakes a structural anatomy of the emerging modern sector of Soqotra’s economy and performs a social inventory of this economy’s participants. It highlights Soqotra’s historical predicament as an economy that was always subjected to an externally imposed political economy. It situates the emergence of the modern economy in the mid-1990s through government-led modernization initiatives. It traces its subsequent evolution into a complex imbrication of four economic domains that are partly differentiated by the nature of their economic activities and their participants: a municipal economy based on the mainland government’s interventions in the form of salaries for the local civil service, infrastructure investments and subsidies; a social economy that is based on social enterprises dedicated to the well-being of collectivities through community-based organizations and cooperatives; a service economy that is based on trading activities that cater to the islanders’ consumer needs and ecotourism that seeks to attract foreign visitors; and a diasporic economy driven by émigré remittances and a foreign government-led aid diplomacy that is emerging as the dominant driver of the island’s economy. The chapter concludes with a provisional assessment of the social and structural ramifications of this emergent modern economy.