This panel seeks to explore the possibilities of using concepts from critical theory to understand the political dimensions of development policy, with particular emphasis on the anti-neoliberal and anti-developmentalist proposals that have emerged as a response to neoliberalism.
The re-introduction of critical theory to the field of international relations by Cox in the middle of the 1980s, opened the door for an analysis of contemporary capitalist dynamics through concepts like dominance, struggle and hegemony. Since then, many works have described the rise and consolidation of neoliberalism using the tools provided by Gramsci and drawing elements from Marxism, dependency theory and the regulation school. Indeed, these critical perspectives can be useful for harnessing a moment in global capitalism in which the economic and political power of financial capital and large corporations has become a major feature in the configuration of the so-called "world order". The leading role of financial institutions in the approval and vetoing of state decisions configures a field where such theories can perform at their best. This is not the case when it comes to studying the counteroffensive to neoliberalism through popular struggles. With the crisis of organized labor, as well that of the traditional discourse and strategies of the left, anti-neoliberal and anti-developmentalist struggles and defiance seem difficult to grasp through conventional categories of classical critical theory. Is it possible to use critical theory to study the attempts to move towards a post-neoliberal and post-developmental policy? Can the category of hegemony be useful in this task, within the post-structuralist stream as well as within the Neo-Gramscian one? Is the concept of social classes still useful in these discussions? These are some questions this panel seeks to address.