Politics

8 men now own the same as the poorest half of the world: the Davos killer fact just got more deadly

Duncan Green - January 16, 2017

It’s Davos this week, which means it’s time for Oxfam’s latest global ‘killer fact’ on extreme inequality. Since our first calculation in 2014, these have helped get inequality onto the agenda of the global leaders assembled in Switzerland. This year, the grabber of any headlines not devoted to the US presidential inauguration on Friday is that it’s worse than we thought. Last year it was …

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Is the Anti-Politics machine still a good critique of the aid business?

Duncan Green - January 11, 2017

Just been re-reading a great 6 page summary of James Ferguson’s 1994 classic critique of the aid industry, The Anti-Politics Machine. Read this and ask yourself, apart from the grating use of the term ‘Third World’, how much has changed? ‘Any question of the form ‘what is to be done?’ demands first of all an answer to the question, ‘By whom?’ The ‘development’ discourse, and …

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What is Fiscal Justice? A rationale and some great examples

Duncan Green - January 10, 2017

What is ‘Fiscal Justice’? It’s one of those campaign buzzwords that appears every so often, and Oxfam is going big on it (you’ll hear plenty about it at the impending Davos meeting, provided the media cover anything other than Donald Trump’s inauguration that week). If you want to get a sense of what it means on the ground, check out Oxfam’s ‘Fiscal Justice Global Track …

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How bad is my filter bubble problem? Please help me find out

Duncan Green - January 5, 2017

In an idle moment over the Christmas break, I decided to run a twitter poll to assess the extent of my filter bubble. For any of you who’ve been on a different planet for the last few months, that’s the social media phenomenon whereby you like/follow/read only those sources that broadly agree with you, creating an echo chamber that can lead to you mistakenly thinking …

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Is this time really different? Will Automation kill off development?

Duncan Green - December 21, 2016

Is this time really different? That’s the argument whenever people want to ignore the lessons of history (eg arguing that this particular financial bubble/commodity boom will never burst) and such claims usually merit a bucketload of scepticism. On the other hand (climate change, nuclear war) sometimes things really are different from everything that has gone before. Which brings us to technology. Lots of musings are …

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On webinars, prayer and ‘transformational development': an hour with World Vision

Duncan Green - December 16, 2016

I’m becoming a big fan of webinars. I can slump in front of the computer at home, slurping a coffee, give a presentation on the book (Open Access helps – no need to try and get people to buy copies, just download the pdf after the session), then sit back and listen to the ensuing conversation. On Wednesday it was 50 or so World Vision …

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On theories of change, what are the differences between playing offence and defence?

Duncan Green - December 13, 2016

Unsurprisingly, in this year of Brexit and US elections, I’ve been thinking about how to stop bad stuff happening. While they are doubtless desperately looking for silver linings in a year of defeats, progressive movements are likely to spend a good part of the next few years defending good things from political assault. So what is the same/different about defence and offence when it comes …

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A lesson on power and the abstruse (or a love-peeve relationship Part 2)

Duncan Green - December 7, 2016

Duly provoked by yesterday’s assault on IDS’ use of language, John Gaventa responds with a really nice story/rebuttal As ever, we are delighted to see Duncan Green’s interesting and incisive blog on the new IDS Bulletin on Power, Poverty and Inequality. In talking about what he calls his ‘love – peeve’ relationship with IDS, Duncan raises important questions of language in how we discuss power, …

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Power, Poverty and Inequality: a ‘love-peeve’ new IDS bulletin

Duncan Green - December 6, 2016

I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, or more accurately, a love-peeve. I love the topics, the commitment to bottom-up approaches, and the intellectual leadership IDS has shown over the years on a whole range of issues dear to my heart. The peeve stems from its preference for abstruse language and reluctance to commit to the …

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What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

Duncan Green - November 29, 2016

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does this happen, and under what …

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