power

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 can Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Matrix teach us about how change happens?

Duncan Green - December 14, 2016

Chatting to academics in the US last week, we swapped notes on the merits of using shared cultural references to convey some of the key ideas around how change happens. They act as a short cut, allowing subtle, nuanced ideas to be discussed on the basis of a large pool of common knowledge. You need to avoid the pitfalls of cultural imperialism, of course (so …

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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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Some highlights from the first 30 book launches for How Change Happens

Duncan Green - November 17, 2016

I’m about six weeks into launching How Change Happens, and am having a great (if knackering) time. Highlights so far include a Kurdish/Dutch guitar combo warming up the crowd in Nijmegen, conversations with an Islamic finance entrepreneur trying to do financial inclusion in South Wales, a great group of women managing a community-run service station on the M5 motorway and a network of ‘social leaders’ …

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The World Bank is having a big internal debate about Power and Governance. Here’s why it matters.

Duncan Green - July 26, 2016

Writing flagship publications in large institutions is a tough job. Everyone wants a piece, as different currents of opinion, ideology or interest slug it out over red lines and key messages. Trying (and failing) to write one for Oxfam once put me in hospital. So no surprise that the flagship of flagships, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report, on Governance and Law, is currently …

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Book Review: Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations

Duncan Green - April 6, 2016

Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations by Rao, Sandler, Kelleher and Miller, Routledge, 2016 This was another book that came to my rescue as I was struggling towards the finishing line on How Change Happens. In particular, it pulled together thinking about different kinds of power and change in a practical format for activists. The book draws on 15 years of …

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Why those promoting growth need to take politics seriously, and vice versa

Duncan Green - October 14, 2015

Nicholas Waddell, a DFID Governance Adviser working on ‘Governance for Economic Development’ (G4ED) explores the links between governance and economic growth.  Should I play it safe and join a governance team or risk being a lone voice in a sea of economists and private sector staff? This was my dilemma as a DFID Governance Adviser returning to the UK after a stint in East Africa. …

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Is power a zero sum game? Does women’s empowerment lead to increased domestic violence?

Duncan Green - August 27, 2015

I’ve been having an interesting exchange with colleagues at Oxfam America on the nature of power. They argue that empowerment is zero sum, i.e. one person acquiring power means that someone else has to lose it. In a new post, OA’s Gawain Kripke sets out their case. ‘The development community should recognize that women’s economic empowerment is a threat to established power holders. Women’s economic …

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How does Gender change the way we think about Power?

Duncan Green - May 27, 2015

I can’t attend the next get together of the Thinking and Working Politically network in Bangkok next month because of a prior commitment to speak at DFID’s East Kilbride office (ah, the glamour of the aid biz….). Apart from missing out on the Thai food, it’s also a shame because they are focusing on an area I’ve previously moaned about – the absence of gender …

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