‘Why don’t they use the toilet built for them?’: Explaining toilet use in Chhattisgarh, Central India

Jacob, Suraj and Natrajan, Balmurli and Ajay, T. G. (2021) ‘Why don’t they use the toilet built for them?’: Explaining toilet use in Chhattisgarh, Central India. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 55 (1). pp. 89-115. ISSN 0973-0648

[img] Text - Published Version
Download (1MB)

Abstract

Poor sanitation poses problems for health and policy. Sanitation policy has traditionally addressed open defecation (OD) by constructing toilets. However, a puzzle remains: in many parts of the developing world, why do people continue with OD despite toilets being built for them? While extant research is insightful, an empirical, socially driven explanation for ‘sanitation behaviour’ is still elusive. We advance such an explanation based upon fieldwork in central India where the state has built private toilets for villagers. Drawing upon and modifying pragmatic and analytic approaches in sociology and anthropology, we analyse ethnographic examples of individual toilet behaviour to present a social mechanism that explains toilet use (TU) as an emergent social practice resulting from a chain of ‘problem situations’ experienced by villagers. We find that coercive methods deployed by the state as part of toilet and sanitation policy do not produce durable TU habits, and that good quality toilets are necessary but not sufficient for behavioural change. Instead, we show the need for non-coercive methods of ‘nudging’ that rely on the dynamics of social learning that may enable context-sensitive policies around toilets and sanitation.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Jacob, Suraj and Natrajan, Balmurli and Ajay, T. G.
Document Language:
Language
English
Uncontrolled Keywords: Culture, Explanation, Habit, Open defecation, Practice, Social mechanism
Subjects: Social sciences > Sociology & anthropology
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Public
URI: http://publications.azimpremjifoundation.org/id/eprint/3242
Publisher URL:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item