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Rhonda Phillips, Eric Trevan and Patsy Kraeger

Fundamentally, research is the process of discovery and exploration – the outcomes of which range widely from increasing understanding and finding potential solutions to gathering information that may contribute to additional inquiry. Community development as a means of improving the places we live in is a pressing issue more than ever, and further discovery and exploration of it are very much needed. It is our intent to present this volume to spur ideas and innovations in community development. At its most basic, community development is simply about making things better for the people who live there (Musikanski et al., 2019). At its most complex, it is decidedly difficult to identify the most effective or desirable approach as needs, desires, conditions, external and internal influences and confounding factors and resources can vary widely between communities. Community represents agency and solidarity (Bhattacharyya, 1995), and it is critical to understand that community is not only a destination and location but can also include a common set of ideas and values (Trevan, 2016), which inform both research and practice for the co-creation of knowledge. By focusing on research approaches, techniques and applications, we aim to illustrate both the broad complexity of community development and its potential. We hope this will help foster greater understanding of how research contributes to scholarship and to practice, where we see the results of ideas in action.

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James Midgley

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James Midgley

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Peter K. Spink

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James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers

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Gareth Dale

A widely-held view on the relationship between poverty and inequality is that there isn’t one. Welfare, in this optic, is determined by economic growth, not distribution. How the poor fare has nothing to do with how well-heeled are the rich. What matters is not the pie’s ingredients or how it is carved up, but the fact that tomorrow’s delivery is bigger than today’s. This chapter discusses four aspects of the ‘rising tide’ image. Three are attributes of the metaphor itself: it envisages ‘the economy’ as, like the sea, a law-governed natural phenomenon; it moves (or rises) as a whole and in a manner that is perceptible and measurable; and all human livelihoods rest on a single socio-economic basis, much as vessels on the ocean. The fourth pertains to the conjuncture in which the aphorism first gained popularity: in a speech by John F. Kennedy in which he laid out his Smithian-Keynesian version of the growth paradigm.

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Susanne Schech

It is now well over two decades since critiques of development, informed by cultural studies and postcolonialism, have started to make their mark in teaching and research. A sign that it has become established is the fact that development studies reference books include ‘culture and development’ among the various conceptualizations of development as a process and phenomenon. This chapter maps how the culture and development approach has evolved, what impact it has had on the study of development, and what limitations and critiques have been raised. Having emerged in the 1990s at a time of crisis in development theory and praxis, how relevant is the culture and development approach today? The second part of the chapter examines the extent to which culture has been placed at the centre of development interventions, and how this has changed development practices and their critical analyses.

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Matthew Louis Bishop

The purpose of this chapter is to engage with current implications of the democracy and development debates. Many assume a tightly constituted link between democracy and development, but this is far more contested and contingent than it usually appears. This chapter starts by outlining the essentially liberal account of why development and democracy are believed to go together, before asking why, if this is the case, there has been a backlash against attempts to promote them. Then, in the second section, the chapter examines the genesis of the backlash against this conception. The final substantive section reflects on the wider implications for global liberalism in the contemporary era, focusing on three broad patterns of change: reassertions of state sovereignty, the rise of economically nationalist rhetoric, and the undermining of multilateral institutions. The chapter concludes by briefly considering the significance of the argument for broader processes of global governance.

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Rowan Lubbock

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were signed into history as a significant political effort at the global level to tackle the long-standing problems of international development but, by its own statistical standards, many of the social indicators measured by the MDG framework have actually worsened. This chapter argues that one way to think about the current impasse of global development is through a longer historical view of how the ‘idea’ of development has evolved during the epoch of ‘modernity’. This is not an arbitrary scholastic choice, but rather a window into the deeper connections between power and knowledge that has significantly shaped the geopolitical relations between what we have come to call the Global ‘North’ and ‘South’. In short, thinking through the geographical distribution of poverty and plenty requires a concerted focus on the phenomenon of imperialism as a specific material dynamic and organizing principle of international relations.

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Ray Kiely

Is the world becoming less (or more) unequal, and, if so, what role has development played in reducing (or increasing) inequality? What development strategies are more or less egalitarian than others? How does inequality relate to poverty? What, in fact, is inequality and how can we measure it? These are significant questions and this chapter cannot provide detailed answers to all of them. It does suggest answers to some of them by looking at the question of the relationship between development and inequality in terms of ‘emergence’, ‘debates’ and ‘strategies’, and then, in a more detailed discussion, draws on these debates to critically survey some recent trends in the relationship between development and inequality: first, the ‘emergence’ of the discourse of development after 1945; second, different theoretical explanations of global inequality in the context of post-war development; and, third, the effect of concrete development processes and strategies that emerged in this period.