*Seven decades of development?* A short introduction to some of the big **concepts of post-war development theory

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Published on February 16, 2014

Author: tobiasdenskus



Introductory lecture on development theory and key theoretical concepts underpinning post-WWII international development policy and practice. The lecture was part of a teaching seminar organized by the Communication for Development program at Malmö University, Sweden and hosted by the European Liberal Arts College in Berlin, Germany in November 2013

Seven decades of development? A short introduction to some of the big concepts of post-war development theory Tobias Denskus ComDev-ECLA Berlin seminar, 8 & 9 November 2013

Overview of the presentation • • • • • • Modernity Critique Hope Disillusionment New Dawn Beginning (?) – post-WWII-1950s – 1960s-early 1970s – 1970s – late 1970s-mid 1980s – post-1989-late 1990s – 2000-now

The belief in development ‘As a buzzword, (development) has been used time and again to promote a system that is neither viable, nor sustainable, nor fit to live in. (…). The question therefore remains: given the amount of information that scientists have gathered on the manifold natural (actually human-made) hazards that may impinge on our daily lives, why is it that we do not believe in what we know to be certain? The answer, probably, lies in the fact that our belief in ‘development’ is still too strong to be undermined by scientific certainty’. (Rist in Cornwall, pp.24-25)

The complexities of shooting the development messenger Development reflects dominant discourses of each era • Development is intertwined with social, political, historical & cultural debates • Development’s ‘failures’ and ‘successes’ often happen as a continuum rather than a dichotomy: • Foresight & hindsight • Stability & change • Power & knowledge • Leadership & bureaucracy •

Growth, bipolarity, containment & …growth – Rostow’s stage model

Looks easy on paper – Post-war approaches to liberal modernization

States, global capitalism & the re-imagination of center-periphery relations – Latin America & dependency theory

New Right ideas on state, market & economy – Structural adjustment

Structural adjustment: Reality vs. ideology Policies Official aims Actual experience Currency devaluation Increase exports and reduce imports Little evidence of increased export earnings; commodity prices fell more with increased competition from exporters Export promotion Earn foreign exchange for debt repayment Export crops replaced food crops; ecological damage; rural displacements; earnings for debt, not investment Government spending cuts Reduce excessive demand Cuts in education, health & service budgets Privatization Enterprises becoming more efficient Reduced employment; long-term service quality & accessibility Unrestricted imports Improve efficiency & competitiveness Drainage of foreign exchange; undermining of local economy

The end of history…and conflict, ideology & underdevelopment - Post-1989 expectations • • • Success of liberal capitalism and ‘the free market’ Trust in multipolar global governance Expectations of inclusive civic engagement through global civil society & new social movements • Peaceful conflict resolution through UN & regional organisations

Putting industry (back) into development industry - The ‘–isation’ years • • • • • NGO-isation Depolit-isation Professional-isation Corporat-isation Academ-isation

BRICS & the future of development – New actors, countries & alliances • • • • The emergence of Brazil, India, China & South Africa Philanthrocapitalism and –capitalists (Bill G., Bill C., Bono) New corporate engagement – large & small Merging of aid, trade & foreign policy (e.g. Canada & Australia)

Conclusion II • • • • • • Modernity Critique Hope Disillusionment New Dawn Beginning (?) – post-WWII-1950s – 1960s-early 1970s – 1970s – late 1970s-mid 1980s – post-1989-late 1990s – 2000-now

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