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The ambivalence of post‐development: between reactionary populism and radical democracy

The ambivalence of post‐development: between reactionary populism and radical democracy The post‐development critique of development discourse has by now been widely discussed and criticised. Post‐development texts have been interpreted as a cynical legitimation of neoliberalism or a futile romanticisation of premodern times; more sympathetic critics have at least acknowledged its potential to criticise the shortcomings of development theory and policy. There is, however, widespread agreement on the assumptions that post‐development can be seen as a Foucaultian critique of development and that it forms a sort of theoretical school. This article is concerned with challenging these assumptions by showing that 1) post‐development only employs (if at all) a rather impoverished version of Foucault's discourse analysis; 2) there are in fact two variants to be found under the heading post‐development—a sceptical and a neo‐populist one—and most of the criticisms are only valid for the latter. Whereas neo‐populist post‐development has reactionary political consequences, sceptical post‐development uses elements of postmodern and post‐Marxist theory and can best be described as a manifesto of radical democracy in the field of development studies. For scholars interested in emancipation, the point is to identify the crucial differences between post‐development sliding into (sometimes reactionary) neo‐populism and post‐development converging with theories of radical democracy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Third World Quarterly Taylor & Francis

The ambivalence of post‐development: between reactionary populism and radical democracy

Third World Quarterly , Volume 25 (6): 16 – Sep 1, 2004
16 pages

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References (60)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1360-2241
eISSN
0143-6597
DOI
10.1080/0143659042000256887
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The post‐development critique of development discourse has by now been widely discussed and criticised. Post‐development texts have been interpreted as a cynical legitimation of neoliberalism or a futile romanticisation of premodern times; more sympathetic critics have at least acknowledged its potential to criticise the shortcomings of development theory and policy. There is, however, widespread agreement on the assumptions that post‐development can be seen as a Foucaultian critique of development and that it forms a sort of theoretical school. This article is concerned with challenging these assumptions by showing that 1) post‐development only employs (if at all) a rather impoverished version of Foucault's discourse analysis; 2) there are in fact two variants to be found under the heading post‐development—a sceptical and a neo‐populist one—and most of the criticisms are only valid for the latter. Whereas neo‐populist post‐development has reactionary political consequences, sceptical post‐development uses elements of postmodern and post‐Marxist theory and can best be described as a manifesto of radical democracy in the field of development studies. For scholars interested in emancipation, the point is to identify the crucial differences between post‐development sliding into (sometimes reactionary) neo‐populism and post‐development converging with theories of radical democracy.

Journal

Third World QuarterlyTaylor & Francis

Published: Sep 1, 2004

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