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Development research

Convergent or divergent approaches and understandings of poverty? An introduction

John R. Campbell and Jeremy Holland

Is it possible or indeed desirable to combine qualitative, participatory and quantitative research methods and approaches to better understand poverty? This special section of Focaal seeks to explore a number of contentious, inter-related issues that arise from multimethod research that is driven by growing international policy concerns to reduce global poverty. We seek to initiate an interdisciplinary dialog about the limits of methodological integration by examining existing research practice to better understand the strengths and limitations of combining methods which derive from different epistemological premises. We ask how methods might be combined to better address issues of causality, and whether the concept of triangulation offers a possible way forward. In examining existing research we find little in the way of shared understanding about poverty and, due to the dominance of econometrics and its insistence on using household surveys, very little middle ground where other disciplines might collaborate to rethink key conceptual and methodological issues.

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Development and Migration--Migration and Development

What Comes First? Global Perspective and African Experiences

Stephen Castles

Socio-economic change and human mobility are constantly interactive processes, so to ask whether migration or development comes first is nonsensical. Yet in both popular and political discourse it has become the conventional wisdom to argue that promoting economic development in the Global South has the potential to reduce migration to the North. This carries the clear implication that such migration is a bad thing, and poor people should stay put. This 'sedentary bias' is a continuation of colonial policies designed to mobilise labour for mines and plantations, while preventing permanent settlement in the cities. European policy-makers and academics are particularly concerned with flows from Africa, and measures taken by the European Union and its member states are often designed to reduce these - often in the guise of well-meaning development policies. By contrast, many migration scholars regard human mobility as a normal part of social transformation processes, and a way in which people can exercise agency to improve their livelihoods. This article examines these problems, first by providing a brief history of academic debates on international migration and development. It goes on to look at the politics of migration and development, using both EU policy and African approaches as examples. An alternative approach to migration and development is presented, based on a conceptual framework derived from the analysis of social transformation processes.

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Paul Sillitoe

This is an introduction to indigenous or local knowledge (IK) in development. After discussing problems of definition, various models to represent relations between, and structure enquiries into, different knowledge traditions are outlined, including the continuum and sphere representations. This discussion includes a summary of points that justify why agencies should seek better to incorporate consideration of local knowledge into development programmes; and sketches the several methodological issues that we have to address to take this work forwards. Finally, this introduction concludes with some comments on the work of the Durham Anthropology in Development (AID) group.

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Feminism and Development

Building the Discipline or Politicising It?

David Lempert

Although initial contributions of Women's Studies to the field of Development Studies were to question existing concepts and assumptions and to offer new models and inclusive approaches, it appears that contemporary scholarship has shifted entirely (and even unapologetically) into political advocacy with little further in the way of social science or fresh critique and modelling. In Development Studies, Applied Anthropology and possibly in other subfields where gender concerns are presented in 'single-variable' or 'interest-group' perspectives, it may now be time to return to earlier goals through a depoliticisation of 'Feminist' and 'Women's' Studies, appropriately integrating 'Gender Studies' and concerns into subfields in ways that promote holistic advance of those fields. The essay uses two recent books with alternative examinations of feminism in developing societies – one on the area of 'development' and one on relations of two 'developed' countries, the U.S. and Russia – as springboards for a discussion of what has gone wrong and what can be changed in the sub-field of gender and Development Studies.

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Narratives of Development

An Anthropological Investigation into Narratives as a Source of Enquiry in Development Planning

Taapsi Ramchandani

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago is currently the fastest-growing borough where economic development is complemented by investment in residential, commercial and infrastructural programmes. In tandem with the local government, an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) sought to understand the sociohistorical context within which economic growth has taken place to inform the IGO’s development plans for the area. This article focuses on local narratives collected in 2013 as part of a historical case study that reveals a complex relationship of citizens to the state within the context of a post-colonial, multi-ethnic society. Using an interpretivist framework of narratives as language, metaphor and knowledge, I examine how narratives reflect the lived experience of economic development as a confluence of history, ethnic identity and neoliberal ideas of entrepreneurship. Their inclusion as a source of enquiry in development planning will ensure that exogenous intervention remains holistic, equitable and informed by historical institutions of social practice.

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Anata Kumar Giri

Mainstream discourse and practice of development mainly focus on what can be called the prose of development: the hard-core and hardware issues of economics, politics, and infrastructure. There is very little poetics in the mood and methods of its advocates. This article, referring among others to Indian philosophers, argues that we should turn this approach around in a transformative way, by putting what is usually considered the lowest at the top. Poetics of development builds upon inner and shared transformations in prose and poetics, as it seeks to express the suffering and joys of souls and societies. It offers a new dimension to the social quality idea about “the social” as the outcome of the dialectic between processes of self-realization of human beings and the formation of collective identities. The article argues that this shift in focus is essential to meaningful development.

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Dialogue for Development

An Exploration of Relations between Oil and Gas Companies, Communities, and the State

Florian Stammler and Emma Wilson

This introduction provides an overview of academic research and current practice relating to stakeholder dialogue around oil and gas development in the Russian North, Siberia and the Russian Far East. We discuss the two main strands of analysis in this special issue: (a) regulation and impact assessment; and (b) relationship-building in practice, with a particular focus on indigenous communities. We argue that an effective regulatory framework, meaningful dialogue, and imaginative organization of stakeholder relations are required to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits from oil and gas projects. Self-interest, mistrust, and a lack of collective agency frequently lead to ineffective planning and heightened tensions in relations. We identify lessons to be learned from partnerships and initiatives already established in Sakhalin and Western Siberia, despite the lack of a stable legal framework to govern relations. This issue focuses on the academic-practitioner interface, emphasizing the importance of practical application of academic research and the value of non-academic contributions to academic debates.

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Iris Borowy

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) evolved in the competition between two perspectives on development: one that sees the reasons for poverty and misery in the specificities of the countries concerned (the localist view) and another that looks at the global context, including and especially the policies of “developed” high-income countries (the globalist view). The core of the MDGs emerged in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and shifted the public focus from the globalist approaches of recent United Nations (UN) conferences to a localist approach. Subsequent UN discussions broadened the perspective again, leading to a more hybrid final form. In the process, goals on equitable trade and financial relations, on market access for products from the Least Developed Countries and on HIV/AIDS and malaria were added, while a goal on access to reproductive health was dropped. Meanwhile, inherent economic–environmental contradictions have remained unresolved.

Spanish Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) evolucionaron a través de la competencia entre dos puntos de vista sobre el desarrollo: uno que ve las razones de la pobreza y la miseria en las especificidades de los países en cuestión (la visión localista) y otro que las ve en el contexto global, incluyendo especialmente las políticas de los países “desarrollados” de altos ingresos (la visión globalista). El núcleo de los ODM surgió en la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE) y cambió la perspectiva pública de enfoques globalistas de las conferencias recientes de Naciones Unidas por un enfoque localista. Discusiones posteriores de las Naciones Unidas ampliaron la perspectiva de nuevo, dando lugar a una forma final más híbrida. A lo largo de este proceso, se añadieron metas sobre el comercio justo y las relaciones financieras, el acceso a los mercados para los productos de los países menos adelantados, el VIH/SIDA y la malaria, mientras que se redujo el objetivo del acceso a la salud reproductiva. Mientras tanto, las contradicciones inherentes a temas económicos y ambientales han quedado sin resolver.

French Les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) ont évolué entre deux points de vue concurrents sur le développement : celui qui voit les causes de la pauvreté et de la misère dans les spécificités des pays concernés — la vision localiste — et un autre qui prend en considération le contexte mondial, y compris surtout les politiques des pays «développés» -la vision mondialiste-. Le noyau des OMD a émergé au sein de l'OCDE et il a détourné l'attention publique des approches globalistes des conférences récentes des Nations Unies vers une approche localiste. Les discussions ultérieures des Nations Unies ont de nouveau élargi la perspective, conduisant finalement à une forme plus hybride. Au cours de ce processus, les objectifs en matière de commerce équitable et de relations financières, l'accès aux marchés pour les produits des pays les moins avancés et ceux qui concernent le VIH / sida et le paludisme ont été ajoutés, tandis que l'objectif de l'accès à la santé reproductive a été abandonné alors que les contradictions inhérentes à l'économie et à l'environnement sont restées en suspens

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Band Development in Northern Ireland

Ethnographic Researcher to Policy Consultant

Jacqueline Witherow

This article examines the concept of 'band development' taking place within the parading band culture in contemporary Northern Irish society. The parading tradition in Northern Ireland today is associated with two main characteristics; first, the public image of contemporary parading traditions is mainly negative due to its association with parading disputes that particularly developed in the 1990s. Second, that aggressively Protestant Blood and Thunder flute bands have become a dominant feature of these public performances. It is these ensembles that are defining people's notions of what parading bands represent. This article will discuss how ethnographic research with these bands allowed engagement on a policy level to take place, leading to 'band development'.

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Cooperative Antagonism in Development Research

A Perspective From Bangladesh

Manzurul Mannan

Development research in Bangladesh creates friction in projects among various stakeholders—donors, NGOs, managers, researchers or the poor beneficiaries. Research is an element of power relations among the contending actors. The mutually reinforcing relations of power between different actors determine the quality and outcomes of research. All the contending actors' aims may be to serve the poor by promoting development in order to alleviate poverty, but cooperation between them becomes a source of antagonism that can seriously hamper the promotion of local knowledge issues, which become lost in the ensuing differences of opinion and aims.