Politics

Can Hegel (and Geoff Mulgan) chart a new progressive agenda?

Duncan Green - May 25, 2017

Geoff Mulgan is one of the UK’s most original thinkers about the future of society. He set up the thinktank Demos, advised the early Blair government, and now runs NESTA (an ‘innovation foundation). According to Wikipedia he even trained as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka. I recently came across his essay on a progressive response to Brexit, Trump etc – it’s brilliant, and although …

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Why is life in fragile/conflict states not more ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’? New research programme on ‘Public Authority’

Duncan Green - May 24, 2017

Thomas Hobbes argued that states are essential to guarantee security. In their absence there would be a ‘war of all against all’ in which life would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’. But in most fragile and conflict affected areas, that degree of bloodbath is strikingly absent – individuals, families and communities find ways to survive and resolve disputes in ways that stop short …

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Draft Paper on Adaptive Management in Oxfam – all comments welcome

Duncan Green - May 23, 2017

With a few important exceptions, large international NGOs have been pretty absent from the global conversation about ‘Doing Development Differently’, but are they doing it anyway and just skipping the meetings? To find out, a group of LSE Masters Students analysed a bunch of case studies of Oxfam programmes claiming to pursue ‘adaptive management’ approaches. Their report is so interesting that we want to publish …

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Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

Duncan Green - May 19, 2017

Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as ‘political crying’ – awkward in public places). At the same …

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Why rethinking how we work on market systems and the private sector is really hard

Duncan Green - May 17, 2017

Whatever your ideological biases about ‘the private sector’ (often weirdly conflated with transnational corporations in NGO-land), markets really matter to poor people (feeding families, earning a living, that kind of thing).  But ‘making markets work for the poor’ turns out to be really difficult and, just as with attempts to tackle corruption or improve institutions, there is a rethink going on in the aid business. …

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Making Change in Closed Political Environments – what works?

Duncan Green - May 12, 2017

I’m a big fan of the International Budget Partnership, which manages both to get down and dirty in supporting national campaigns and movements for budget transparency, and to step back and spot the broader patterns of politics and change. Over the next few months I’m going to be helping them think through their strategy so I’ve been catching up a few recent research papers. First …

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Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development

Duncan Green - May 11, 2017

Guest post from Matthew Spencer, who crossed over from the environment sector recently to become Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy  Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain our 0.7% overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week the government had to be forced to publish …

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What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Duncan Green - May 10, 2017

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine, who each contributed chapters. …

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Why is so little being done to stop traffic killing 1.25m people per year, and costing 3% of global GDP? Good new paper.

Duncan Green - May 4, 2017

Part of my purpose in life is to puff good new papers from the ODI, and it’s been a while, so here goes. Work in the aid business and you regularly hear grisly tales of deaths, injuries and near misses of colleagues and partners on the roads of the developing world. In Peru, I once had the disorienting experience of seeing the rear wheel of …

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

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