Deconstructing Development Discourse
Buzzwords and Fuzzwords
Edited by Andrea Cornwall and Deborah Eade
Writing from diverse locations, contributors critically examine some of the key terms in current development discourse. Why should language matter to those who are doing development? Surely, there are more urgent things to do than sit around mulling over semantics? But language does matter. Whether emptied of their original meaning, essentially vacuous, or hotly contested, the language of development not only shapes our imagined worlds, but also justifies interventions in real people's lives. If development buzzwords conceal ideological differences or sloppy thinking, then the process of constructive deconstruction makes it possible to re-examine what have become catch-all terms like civil society and poverty reduction, or bland aid-agency terms such as partnership or empowerment. Such engagement is far more than a matter of playing word games. The reflections included here raise major questions about how we think about development itself.
"A sparkling addition to the student's tool-kit, and a sobering call for renewed thinking to long-time development thinkers and practitioners."
Gita Sen, Professor, Centre for Public Policy, Indian Institute of Management
"'With a lightness of touch that belies a deadly seriousness of intent, this book is both a useful guide and a powerful antidote to the dangerous oversimplifications of twenty-first century development policy.'"
David Lewis, Professor of Social Policy and Development, London School of Economics and Political Science
"An exciting, fun and deeply challenging book for all engaged in development."
Wendy Harcourt, Editor of Development, Society for International Development
"This book goes a long way towards demonstrating the emptiness of development jargon, unveiling the naked emperor."
Firoze Manji, Editor in Chief, Pambazuka News
"This collection fills the important gap by demystifying the jargon and concepts for practitioners and students of development.'"
Rajesh Tandon, President, PRIA, India
Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Anthropology and Development in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.
Deborah Eade was Editor-in-Chief of Development in Practice from 1991 to 2010, prior to which she worked for 10 years in Latin America. She is now an independent writer on development and humanitarian issues, based near Geneva.
1. Introductory overview
2. Development as a buzzword
3. Words count
Naomi Alfini and Robert Chambers
4. Poverty reduction
5. Social protection
7. The F-word and the S-word
Pablo Alejandro Leal
9. Citizenship: a perverse confluence
10. Taking the power out of empowerment
11. Social capital
12. Reflections on relationships
13. Talking of gender
15. From the right to development to the rights-based approach
16. Civil society
17. Public advocacy and people-centred advocacy
18. NGOs: between buzzwords and social movements
19. Capacity building
21. 'Country ownership'
Willem H. Buiter
22. Best of practices?
23. Peacebuilding does not build peace
24. The uncertain relationship between transparency and accountability
26. 'Good governance'
27. The discordant voices of security
28. Fragile states
Eghosa E. Osaghae
29. 'Knowledge management'