Political Economy of Development
Course Code: PUBLG054
Course Tutor: Dr Niheer Dasandi (Department of Political Science)
Assessment: One 3,000 word essay
Credit Value: 15
About this course
The course Political Economy of Development deals with the current empirical reality, theory, concepts, history, and current governance and policy problems of development, poverty, and inequality – including aid, financing and debt, trade, migration, and HIV/AIDS. The main objective of the course is to introduce students to a range of contemporary issues in international development. The course takes a critical and political economy approach to the processes of economic and human development, emphasising the interaction of politics with the economy, as well as society and culture.
Students are introduced to the different strands of development theory and the debates between these different strands. The course focuses upon the way these different theoretical approaches have shaped development relations, processes, institutions, and policies; the trends and assessment of poverty, inequality and development; and the politics of how the developed industrialised world has interacted with the poorer ‘majority world’. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the concept of development and the history of the concept as well as its relation to the material processes of development. Over the duration of the course, students will learn to critically apply different theoretical perspectives on development to a range of contemporary issues for international public policy.
The first few sessions introduce the concept of development; the debates over poverty and inequality; the competing theories and approaches to the study of development and their relationship with various policies, as well as the Millennium Development Goals; the contemporary development environment with a focus on the problems of debt and financing for development. The different perspectives and development context sets the foundations for the rest of the course. The majority of the course is organised around a series of issue areas, or governance problems and policy interventions. Each week the history, context, and details of an issue are introduced. Students are asked to critically assess existing policy initiatives, governance structures, and development outcomes. In reviewing these – and crucially considering alternatives – students will draw upon their knowledge from the course so far, readings, and other research. The seminars and Moodle are crucial in providing the space for this process.
Suggested Preliminary Readings
- Katie Willis (2005) Theories and Practices of Development, London: Routledge – an excellent primer for those new to development studies, easy to read through in a sitting or two.
- Adam Szirmai (2005) The Dynamics of Socio-Economic Development: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press – a more advanced overview text.
- Vandana Desai & Robert Potter (eds) (2008) The Companion to Development Studies, 2nd Edition, London: Arnold – a very useful reference text that covers many different issues in a few pages each.
- Amartya Sen (1999) Development as Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press – a modern classic setting out the view that development is about expanding peoples’ real freedoms
- Arturo Escobar (1995) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton: Princeton University Press – a postmodern classic setting out the view of development as a project and discourse of control and management.