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Development Beyond Neoliberalism? Governance, Poverty Reduction and Political Economy Paperback – 21 Apr 2006

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"For over a decade the consensus about how to do Development has focused on market liberalization, overarching juridical and public sector reform, and local participation in service delivery. Development Beyond Neoliberalism? mounts a frontal challenge to this consensus, using an unusual mix of empirical arguments. Recommended for the prejudiced and unprejudiced alike." Robert Hunter Wade, Professor of Political Economy, Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics

"This book vividly exposes the poverty of neoliberal development agenda at all its levels - economic, political, and social - through a powerful and sophisticated mixture of history, theory, and detailed empirical studies. It is a major achievement." Ha-Joon Chang. Assistant Director of Development Studies. Faculty of Economics, Cambridge University.


'This well-written book would be a useful stand-alone text for advanced undergraduates or a companion volume for graduate students. Students interested in development from disciplines such as geography, anthropology, sociology or international studies would fi nd this volume useful. ' Rob Krueger, Urban Studies Journal

About the Author

David Craig works in the Sociology Department, the University of Aukland. Doug Porter is with the Asian Development Bank.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling preveiw of what the future holds for Indigenous Affairs in Australia 28 Jan. 2007
By Mark Moran - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book gives an account of the global economic impact of Neoliberalism on international development practices. As these same forces travel and take root in remote Australia, it offers a compelling preview of what the future holds for Indigenous Affairs.

Liberalism is a political-economic philosophy that emphasises the benefits of markets, rule of law, the need for human and property rights. In its approach to poverty, it rejects redistribution and emphasises moral discipline, security and (again) markets. In the 1980s, it excesses were popularly described by critics as economic rationalism, Thatcherism or Reagonomics. Through the 1990s Liberalism confusingly came to pervade both left and right sides of politics: today, it does not neatly align with the conservative Liberal Party in Australia, but it is strongly evident in New Labour in Britain, and the Democrats Party in the USA. The book draws attention to the pervasive expansion of Liberalism into the Left of politics, into what is now widely called Neoliberalism.

The authors chart the history of Neoliberalism in international development, beginning with the structural adjustment programs (e.g., deregulated currencies, privatisation of public services) foisted onto developing countries by a suite of international aid organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, and the African Development Bank (what collectively became known as the Washington Consensus). Whilst the excesses of structural adjustment retreated through the 1990s, Craig and Porter demonstrate how Neoliberalism continued to dominate international development practice, largely under the banner of poverty reduction and `good governance'.

This rings true in Australia, with ongoing attempts to open up and reduce the role of government in Indigenous Affairs. Recent examples include the tendering of the Commonwealth Development Employment Projects (CDEP), the amalgamation of local to regional government, the decentralisation of training to Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), and the pushing of coordinating and funding powers down to strategic brokers and consultant case workers. As Craig and Porter argue, such decentralisation is paradoxically accompanied with a corresponding reduction in elected local government and political leadership.

Craig and Porter draw out several alignments that have accompanied Neoliberalism. Interestingly, neoliberal programs have been most successful in one-party or military states (Pakistan, Vietnam, Uganda), with strong disciplinary control. Centralised powers have been quick to discredit and disassembly intermediary representative governance structures, and the political leaders, service providers and other `elites' that they spawn, since they otherwise might compose a political opposition. They have progressed this in the name of freedom and empowerment of citizens to access the market, and the uninterrupted distribution of central funds and other largesse to the poor. Disturbingly, Craig and Porter also describe the rise in security measures to discipline the populace into following the mandates of Neoliberalism.

This again rings true in Australia, with the abolition of ATSIC, and ongoing discrediting of representative Indigenous structures. As state and commonwealth governments retreat from the field, commercialisation (e.g., contracting, privatisation) and re-territorialism (e.g., regionalism) gather pace, as do the police numbers in remote communities and regional centres. Contrary to the claims of joined-up, whole-of-government and partnership, what emerges is what Craig and Porter describe as quasi-territorialisations; vague and ineffective organisations that are ineffective in service delivery and accountability. This also aligns with Australia, where the net effect of these reforms is an increase in the complexity of the governance environment and an annual increase in the quantity of administration to be processed.

Perhaps most striking is the alignment that has been made between Neoliberalism with `community development', and the activities of non-government organisations, through what they describe as `inclusive neoliberalism'. Empowerment is thereby conceptualised as participation in local and global markets; institutional capacity building becomes preoccupied with commercialisation; human capital is built through services rather than training; vulnerability is aided by formal legal rights rather than welfare; and local ideologies are conceptualised as moral obligations to community and work.

Craig and Porter demonstrate how non-government organisations have entered the spaces created by the withdrawal of the government, eager to partner in these `inclusive' arrangements and to gain a new prominence in service delivery. But NGOs operate with some remove from political accountabilities, so when they are privileged as the prime means of articulating citizen voices, they tend to dilute the accountability of government agencies to their citizens. By acting as weak agents, they can thus undermine and depoliticise accountability. Craig and Porter close their book with a call to community development practitioners to be more aware of the effects of Neoliberalism, in not depoliticising the political, and in not aiding the fragmenting of services and accountability. There are enormous incentives for NGOs to go with the flow, and serious consequences for those that do not, but they finish with a plea that `spin should not be allowed to triumph over substance and practice'.

Craig and Porter demonstrate the fraility of these new institutional arrangements emerging under Neoliberalism, which at best offer `inclusion delusion', a sense of something multifaceted, involving plural partners, including NGOs, responding to the voices of the poor; but accountable in the end to no one, unless it is the individual centralised departments insistent on moving money in their own budgetary timeframes. If we are to look beyond Neoliberalism (and its probable demise), we need to think about where things might be in five years time. In New Zealand, they demonstrate how government is now trying to put `humpty dumpty back together again'. Practitioners in Indigenous Affairs might do well to take this long term view, and to frame their activities around long term political accountability to their clients.

This is a closely argued book which requires some commitment to complete. For those planning to embark on the journey, preserve through Part I, since the best is in Part II. My review is not so much a summary, as me drawing some aspects that are pertinent to Indigenous Affairs in Australia. For those concerned about the future of the global order, it is well worth the read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HOW TO WEAKEN THOSE WHO HELP THE WEAK 18 Jan. 2007
By A. E. RODGERS-SMITH - Published on
Format: Paperback
"It's sad that the first reviewer couldn't see past the punctuation. Each one of Craig and Porter's chapters subtly unfold a local map of destruction and disingenuity, in a complex interplay of vertical (governmental) and horizontal (communitarian) axes.

The work patterns and pins down the effects of an economic movement - neoliberalism- that resolutely disavowed coherence of its effects or even its origins. Neoliberalism's practical association with new insitutionalism in breaking down the governance structures of poor or very small countries points to a conspiracy emerging not from single leaders or countries, but from the interplays between concepts that were only ever challenged weakly and have had globally devastating results.

The form of this rich and engaging work reflects the structure of its argument, namely: neoliberal reform in poor and small countries and in aid and development programmes has trashed very fragile initiatives, still does so, and there has been nothing coherent to replace it. It's also obvious that while the authors can range high and fearlessly, they reach conclusions that are grounded in gritty and long term experience. Their restrained anger sometimes has a kind of disbelieving horror at the long term damage to so many of the lives and institutions they have worked with.

The question that should be taken up beyond this book is: who is forming the new theory of the public sphere that is applicable to developing countries? My challenge to these authors is to be more that periodisers of failure and to start on the work that directs a new coherence to those very institutions it critiques."
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 5 Jan. 2007
By G. Meyerink - Published on
Format: Paperback
This could have been a really interesting and informative book - reviewing the agendas of the world's leading development institutions (mainly the World Bank) the implementation and effect of those agenda's. It contains some really interesting case-studies.

It is a critical book, which might be very enlighting. A critical analysis the World Bank's (and other internatinal financial institutions) is certainly warranted. However, it was not always clear to me what the book's criticism is: the theories and ideas behind the agenda (e.g. neoliberalism and NIE) or whether it was the botched implementation - or both.

But what really put me off was the mix up of New Institutional Economics as being pro-market neoliberalism. For instance the authors state that "the powerful central state is often exemplar of 'obstacle' in NIE doctrine" Or "neoliberal and NIE doctrines, which often assume the basic ungovernability of markets and even social situations (...)" These statements are pertinently not true - and I would argue there is no such thing as a "NIE doctrine". NIE is much more pluralistic than that and is not pro-market but analyses a diversity of institutions, practices, and underlying conditions for economic activity.

Finally, I found the book's use of the terms Development and Liberalism with capital letters a bit off-putting.
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