Call for papers for Effective States and Inclusive Development conference on ‘rethinking the politics of development’

The University of Manchester’s Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre is holding a conference in Manchester in September 2019. Here is a link to the call for papers:

Key issues and questions to be explored will include:

1. Rethinking the politics of development

The move beyond  ‘institutions matter’ to ‘politics matters’ has brought forth new conceptual approaches – ‘political settlements’, ‘limited access orders’, ‘elite bargaining’ – that have shed new light on how trajectories of development unfold, over both the long and short term. However, important theoretical questions have been left unexplored: What is the relationship between long-run institutional legacies and contemporary configurations of power? Does the configuration of power amongst elites offer a better predictor of development progress than regime type? Can governance become effective and inclusive at the same time? And if ‘power’ constitutes the new frontier of politics and development thinking, which understandings of power can help capture the complex interplay of ideas, interests and institutions?

2. State capacity, competitive politics and Twenty-First Century developmental states

Processes of state building, democratisation and citizenship-formation in developing countries remain highly contested. The interactions of these political processes with persistent inequalities are generating new problems and responses in developing countries, including the rise of authoritarian forms of populism and new efforts to control unruly urban populations. Old debates around the potential trade-offs between political and socio-economic rights have re-emerged, alongside a resurgence of interest in state capacity and performance. As different varieties of capitalism unfold in the Global South what new types of political order are emerging to sustain them, based on which ideologies of development? What types of development trajectories are possible for different types of countries at the current juncture, and what forms of politics might be required to support these? What kinds of deals are required to achieve and sustain growth? Does the renewed attention to industrial policy suggest a need to focus on state-business relations, or should the focus shift to building the broader coalitions capable of promoting more sustainable and alternative development trajectories?

3. Taking the transnational politics of development seriously

In a globalised world, how can governments regulate global value chains in a range of policy domains, in ways that protect the national interest and promote inclusive forms of development? How is the global political economy of major infrastructure investments playing out, and with what implications for national governance and the local politics of social justice? What are the implications for state sovereignty and democracy of rising levels of indebtedness, including to China? How do global policy agendas travel to and become translated within different political contexts? How can new theories of politics and development join with transnational forms of political economy analysis to provide clearer insights into these processes?

4. New sites of progressive politics?

The changing nature of politics within developing countries is strongly shaped by rising inequalities, nascent processes of class formation, urbanization and demographic shifts. New sites of citizenship and progressive politics may be opening within the realm of distribution, involving collective bargaining and co-production around service delivery and the local politics of social protection. We now know more about how national politics shapes social provisioning, but how does this play out at sub-national level and how are new forms of redistribution themselves reshaping the politics of citizenship and state-society relations? What can be learned from the emergence of hybrid forms of governance in urban areas, often centred on contestations and negotiations over land, housing and service delivery?

The politics of recognition has opened-up space for minority and marginal groups but moving from inclusion to influence remains a challenge. We need to know more about the strategies that marginal groups such as women can deploy to gain substantive forms of representation. Contradictory concerns abound: how can the advances made for women and minority groups be protected from patriarchal and populist backlashes whilst ensuring that a politics of difference doesn’t undermine the universal values required for the public realm to flourish?

5. From thinking to working politically?

What the turn to politics means for development policy and practice remains unclear. For example, we now know a lot more about the politics of local governance, including from randomised control trials on issues of corruption and accountability, and there is widespread acceptance of the need to adopt iterative, problem-driven approaches to solving governance problems. However, we know very little about how these relate to or work within different types of political context: how these might different types of context shape the success or failure of particular approaches to governance or ‘doing development differently’?

Given the institutional and ideological constraints within aid agencies, does it make sense to encourage the ‘anti-politics machine’ to ‘think and work politically’? Unsure as to how to promote ‘good enough governance’, and driven by concerns with authoritarian forms of populism closer to home, there is a temptation to double down on liberal values around ‘inclusive governance’ rather than seek an accommodation with alternative trajectories (e.g. China, South Korea) that emphasis the role of strong states. Is there a choice between building capacity or promoting inclusive forms of governance? How can these dual goals of SDG 16 be attained? Does the now flourishing agenda on taxation and domestic resource mobilisation offer a means through which both state capacity and more progressive social contracts can be built?  What role can bureaucratic pockets of effectiveness play in securing developmental forms of governance?

If you are interested, please submit your abstract by 15 March 2019.

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