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This panel invites papers that critically examine apparent paradigm shifts in how Development Studies is being re-imagined or the recent 'mainstream' re-discovery of heterodox policies and 'older' development priorities (industrial policy, infrastructure, political analysis).
The 2008/9 financial crisis, along with the rise of China's influence within global political economy, contributed to optimism that a paradigm shift was underway in development policy and Development Studies. Industrial policy was re-discovered, infrastructure was back on the agenda, some low-income countries were enjoying newfound policy space and even international financial institutions were re-discovering long-lost topics (inequality, industrial policy and the importance of political analysis). As these topics were rediscovered, debates have ensued about the consequences of this shift in development thinking. International Financial Institutions and mainstream economics have been widely accused of diluting heterodox approaches to fit attempts at paradigm maintenance. More recently, the pandemic, cuts to aid and the merging of development and foreign policy in the UK have further fuelled debates on what 'development' might mean in the 2020s.
Alongside these policy shifts, new academic discourses like 'Global Development' have emerged, based on notions of convergence between OECD countries and the rest of the world but without clarity on whether this is a fundamental shift in global political economy or what it implies for development policy. Meanwhile the welcome ongoing movement to decolonize development and take greater account of multiple positionalities and home-grown 'development alternatives' has challenged conventional approaches to the political economy of development.
This panel invites papers that critically examine whether new academic paradigms or the rediscovery of alternative development priorities constitute fundamental change. It urges contributors to consider whether new trends constitute paradigm shifts, or represent opportunistic moves that ultimately serve paradigm maintenance.