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Accepted Paper:

The Battle to Reinvent Development: Unsettling the Status Quo or Desperately Holding on?  


Pritish Behuria (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Since the 2008 financial crisis, cracks appeared in the neoliberal consensus that dominated development thinking. The pandemic prompted renewed attempts at formalising new development paradigms. This paper examines whether the recent reinvention of development has set back progressive possibilities.

Paper long abstract:

The financial crisis contributed to cracks in the New Institutional Economics-inspired market-led paradigm, which had dominated development policy since the 1990s. As questions were raised about the validity of donor-fed solutions, the rise of China forced a re-think for multi-lateral organisations. The UN, responding to the more diverse demands of its members, by calling for new (Global) SDGs replacing the national MDGs. To some, this signalled a shift to a reformed multi-lateral system that recognised the urgent need to think globally and avoid selfish nationalist thinking. To skeptics, 'Global Development' was an all-things-to-everyone rhetorical device, with no acknowledgment of the heavy weight of shifts in economic thinking, which shaped dominant 'paradigms' of the past.

As Global Development became synonymous with the new development agenda, there was an opportunity for entrepreneurial academics to battle over an intellectual case for this new name. A Development and Change forum followed, with debilitating criticisms for the main paper. Global Development discussions then temporarily took a back-seat. Until the Covid pandemic provided a new opportunity to re-state the case for Global Development. Ironically, just as countries were shutting their borders, some argued that the Global Development had never been more salient. Never mind, the stark inequities of vaccine distribution that unsettle any claims of 'converging divergence'.

This paper analyses whether renewed attempts at self-anointing 'Global Development' as the new development paradigm are convincing or whether the silences obscured by such discourses sustain the dominant market-led paradigm.

Panel P01b
Paradigm maintenance or shift? Questioning the reinvention of development for the 2020s II