Faith in a post-development world?

By James Copestake

Still from the Book of Mormon

Still from the Book of Mormon

Musicals aren’t really my thing, but reviews of The Book of Mormon were intriguing and we went. It lived up to its billing: fast, foot-tapping fun; irreverent and unrestrained in lampooning zealous religiosity and revelling in our bodily obsessions. But what, you may ask, has it got to do with international development? The answer Continue reading

Brokerage, Development and the ‘New Bihar’: Reflections from the field

By Shahid Perwez

‘Development’ in Bihar is a new phenomenon. Since 2005, it has had the fastest economic growth rate in India and is applauded for a dramatic turnaround of its poor governance. In November 2005, Nitish Kumar took over as Chief Minister promising to leave no stone unturned in making ‘good governance’ a reality. The state he took over was marred by a sluggish economy, severe malnutrition and an unusually high maternal and infant mortality rate, inaccessible hospitals due to lack of functional roads, massive unemployment leading to outmigration of youths, and unusually high crime rate Continue reading

Still a future for development discourse?

By James Copestake

Has the word development been rendered meaningless through over-use, or does it still provide a useful discursive space within which to explore ideas about how our well-being can be improved? A short recent book by Esteva et al. (2013) reasserts the case for confining the term to history as a failed Western project. While they may struggle to predict the precise date of its demise, the authors do offer one for its birth: 20 January 1949, or the day of Harry Truman’s inaugural address as 33rd President of the USA, when he declared the country “pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques” and proposed a “bold new program for sharing these benefits “for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas” and for the people living there “…in conditions approaching misery.” The book argues that this project has mostly promoted Western interests, and perpetuated underdevelopment elsewhere. In so doing, it updates the ideas put forward in the Development Dictionary edited by Wolfgang Sachs in 1992, to which Esteva also contributed. It attacks advocates of the “social cancer” of neo-liberalism, and of state-led provision of basic needs with equal gusto; and adds global “ecological overshoot” to the catalogue of things that Truman’s vision of development can be blamed for.

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Why the Gender Dummy doesn’t speak: Explaining the gender gap in financial inclusion

By Susan Johnson

Recent research has given us much better data on the difference in access to formal financial services between men and women.  The figure below gives these gaps by region based on the Global Findex dataset.  With this evidence for the gender gap, what we really want to know is: what it is about being a woman or man that creates the gap?   That is, are these gaps the result of factors such as women having less education, lower incomes and being less likely to have formal employment? Or do they arise from legal factors such as property rights, inheritance rights, gender norms about autonomy, mobility, etc.? Or, perhaps women behave inherently differently and are more risk averse. Or does being a woman matter for another reason, even when all these factors are taken into account?  If it does, then we might need to look further for other sources of discrimination in the market. These might include the behaviour of the financial institutions themselves.

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The poverty of stateless people; how do we bridge the gap between need and development assistance?

By Jason Tucker

About a year ago I set out to look at how we can better incorporate the needs of stateless people in the development sector. This was driven by my own and others research, which began to show that these greatly under researched populations have largely been marginalised from the provision of development Continue reading

Hot summer reading on global development

By James Copestake

I guess I am not alone in living with a big mismatch between the amount of reading-around-my-field I would like or ought to do and what I actually fit in. Perhaps I’m also not the only sad person for whom holidays serve as an opportunity to address the gap. But having thus subverted my beach-time, can I actually remember anything of what I read? Continue reading

The state-of-the-ART Project (Update 1)

By James Copestake

“I never publish anything that hasn’t been through five drafts” is what the celebrated economist Kenneth Galbraith reportedly said when asked the secret of his ability to write so well. Well, I confess this blog doesn’t meet his standard, but I can report that a sixth draft of the Qualitative Impact Protocol (QUIP) for Assessing Rural Transformations can now be downloaded Continue reading

‘Divided brain, divided world?’: International development and Ian McGilchrist’s right-hemisphere deficit thesis

By James Copestake

Ian McGilchrist’s heavyweight work, The Master and his Emissary, is primarily a contribution to neuroscience and psychology but claims also to be saying something more general about “the making of the Western World”. This wider ambition is explored in Divided Brain, Divided World, a text featuring a dialogue between McGilchrist and Jonathan Rowson, which informed a workshop with policy makers and academics, organised by the RSA Social Brain Centre in November 2012. Philosopher Ray Tallis led those who doubted that better understanding of cranial circuitry can help much to explain history. But others, Continue reading

Addressing 21st century social challenges: Building bridges between ‘development studies’ and ‘social policy’

By Rana Jawad

The coming together of social policy and development studies as academic subjects at a recent conference held by the Development Studies Association and the Social Policy Association (University of Bath, 26-27 April) seemed like a very “natural” occurrence.  Continue reading