Topic: Politics

Why do stable Political Party systems suddenly collapse? Some intriguing insights from Bolivia: Podcast (20m) and blogpost

A new paper by my LSE colleague Jean-Paul Faguet caught my eye, not least because of the timing. It’s a reflection on the causes of the rapid collapse of previously stable political party systems, based on the experience of Bolivia. Impressive timing – we met and recorded this podcast just as Theresa May and Emmanual […]

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How can the UN become a Thought Leader again?

When was the last time you read anything from UNCTAD? Back in the day (say, early 2000s), its annual Trade and Development Report (TDR) was one of the big annual milestones (along with the World Development Report, Human Development Report etc). They were essential reading for any policy wonk. They’re all still being published, but […]

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Is Meritocracy the new Aristocracy? And the 11 Tricks that Elites use to capture Politics.

My Oxfam colleague and regular FP2P contributor Max Lawson (right) sends out a weekly summary of his reading on inequality (he leads Oxfam’s advocacy work on it). They’re great, and Max has opened his mailing list up to the anyone who’s interested – just email max.lawson@oxfam.org, with ‘subscribe’ in the subject line. Here’s his latest effort, covering two issues: […]

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How can Activists get better at harnessing Narratives for social change?

Working in a global organization like Oxfam means spending a lot of time on conference calls, with colleagues scattered across the globe. They can be frustrating – dodgy connections, people fading in and out, speaking too fast, or forgetting to put their phones on mute (especially if they are nipping in to the restroom – […]

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Working With/Against the Grain, the case for Toolkits, and the future of Thinking and Working Politically

Second instalment of my download from an intense day spent last week with the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice (first instalment here).   Working With or Against the Grain? In a way, this is a reworking of the reformist v radical divide. Should TWP focus on understanding local institutions and find ways to […]

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Thinking and Working Politically – why the unexpected success?

Spent a fizzy day with the Thinking and Working Politically crew last week, taking stock on its (surprising?) success over the last 5 years (first sighting, November 2013 and this meeting in Delhi), and pondering next steps. Too much to say for a single post, so this will be spread over the next two days. […]

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Book Review: Radical Help, by Hilary Cottam

Every now and then a conversation, paper or book reminds me that activists in the UK are out there in their  thousands, often working and thinking along parallel lines to their counterparts in Oxfam and around the world. I just finished Radical Help, a wonderful book by Hilary Cottam, for which the tl;dr summary could […]

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Can new tech revive the world’s trade unions?

The Economist never ceases to surprise and inform. This week’s issue carries an excellent special report on ‘trade unions and technology’. Here’s an edited extract:   ‘Support for organised labour is rising again (see chart). And technology may again play a central role in helping a revival—particularly in America, where activists are trying inventive new ways to organise […]

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What can we learn from campaigns run by the world’s children and young people?

Save the Children’s Patrick Watt reports back from some INGO soul searching on ‘Engaging a New Generation’ There’s nothing new about children and youth being involved in movements for change, from the anti-apartheid cause in South Africa, to the earlier and more hopeful chapters of the Arab Spring. But what feels different now is that […]

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Old Wine in New Bottles? 6 ways to tell if a programme is really ‘doing development differently’

Guest post from some of the top exponents of adaptive management/doing development differently These days it seems that everyone in the aid sector is doing development differently – presenting themselves as politically smart, locally led, flexible and adaptive. But is it true?  How much of this is “old wine in new bottles” – the language […]

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The Rise of Social Protection, the art of Paradigm Maintenance, and a disagreement with the World Bank

Spent a mind-stretching day last week with a bunch of social protection experts from the LSE, IMF and assorted other bodies. Social Protection includes emergency relief, permanent mechanisms such as pensions and cash transfers, and ‘social insurance’ based on people’s personal contributions. LSE boss Minouche Shafik set the scene really well: ‘The failure of safety […]

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Evil Donors and ‘The Literature’: Is there a problem with the way academics write about aid?

Since I dipped my toe in the waters of academia, I’ve been struck by two things: firstly, the number of my new colleagues (especially the political scientists and anthropologists) who appear convinced that aid is essentially evil – a neo-imperialist plot to defend the status quo. Secondly the way people use the phrase ‘The Literature’, […]

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