Bringing Development Back into Development Studies

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This article challenges Horner and Hulme's call to move from ‘international development’ to ‘global development’ with a reaffirmation of the classical traditions of development studies. With some adaptation to fit the changing contemporary context, these traditions not only remain relevant but also recover vital insights that have been obscured in the various fashionable re?imaginings of development. In particular, development thinking and agendas in the past were much more radical and ambitious in addressing the imperatives of redistribution and progressive forms of transformation in the context of stark asymmetries of wealth and power. Such ambition is still needed to address the nature and scale of challenges that continue to face the bulk of countries in the world, particularly given the persistence if not deepening of asymmetries. This reaffirmation is elaborated by addressing three major weaknesses in Horner and Hulme's arguments. First, they do not actually define development, but instead treat it as simply poverty and inequality dynamics, which are better understood as outcomes rather than causes. Second, despite their assertion that the study of (international) development was primarily concerned with between?country inequalities, this is not true. Domestic inequality was in fact central to both development theory and policy since the origins of the field. Third, the authors ignore the rise of neoliberalism from the late 1970s onwards and the profound crisis that this caused to development outside of East Asia and perhaps India, which the jargon of ‘global’ implicitly obfuscates and even condones. Rather, the experiences of East Asia and in particular China arguably vindicate classical approaches in development studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-444
Number of pages19
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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