Vad är utveckling [What is development?]

3 October 2012
Only in en

Society’s view of development is changing. Over recent years, the politics of foreign aid and development has become increasingly dominated by market solutions. Meanwhile, the predominating view of the goal of development is being questioned. As climate crisis looms, many people are beginning to feel that the constant pursuit of economic growth is unsustainable in the long term. Moreover, post-colonial critique points to the structures of domination that still characterize the relationship between the rich and the poor parts of the world.

In Fronesis no 38-39 the intellectual history, current viability, and future prospects of the idea of development are being explored. What creates development? What are the causes of disparity in levels of development? Who benefits from development? And who decides what shape development will take?

Some of the essays give an account of the changes in foreign aid and development policies in Sweden and the in the rich world in general. For example, the development researcher Mark Duffield discusses how the security of the rich world has become the overarching goal not only of trade- and migration policy but also of foreign aid policy. Economist Omar Dahi argues in his essay that the “Arab Spring” was not only a protest against the region’s dictators but also against the market oriented paradigm of development that had been imposed on the countries by global institutions.

The economist Serge Latouche discusses the term “degrowth” (décroissance in French) and argues that we need to abandon economic growth as a self-evident and legitimate political objective and endeavor in order to find other measures of welfare and well-being.

The gender researcher Christine Keating and political scientists Claire Rasmussen and Pooja Rishi discuss the much embraced practice of micro loans for women. They argue that such strategies do not offer increased self rule for “women” and “poor groups” but rather force them into becoming indebted entrepreneurs, thus strengthening the neoliberal politics of development.

The political scientist Rita Abrahamsen discusses the idea of “partnership” in development as a method of neutralizing hierarchies. Based upon theories of Michel Foucault, Abrahamsen argues that it may be seen as a way of disciplining the recipient countries through the use of freedom and self regulation. Such partnership shifts the attention from international injustices to local weaknesses and places the burden of responsibility on the poor countries rather than on their rich counterparts or on international financial institutions.

Published 3 October 2012

Original in Swedish
First published in

© Fronesis Eurozine

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