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Article

Pablo Nemiña and María Emilia Val

International financial organizations that lend to developing countries are the subject of controversy. Their functions, structures and effectiveness have generated important debates across disciplines, analysts and positions on the ideological-political spectrum. What interests and logic motivate the international financial institutions’ (IFIs) loans? Following an international political economy perspective and mainly based on the literature produced in the early 21st century, we analyze the role played by three variables: the geopolitical and financial interests of powerful global actors, institutional and bureaucratic logic, and the borrower’s interest and domestic policy. These three variables interact and influence the financial decisions made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the major regional development banks (the Inter-American Development Bank [IADB], Asian Development Bank [AsDB], and African Development Bank [AfDB]). On the other hand, what are the main economic and political effects in the recipient countries? The IMF’s credit tackles balance-of-payments crises mainly through adjusting domestic output and consumption, which usually has negative social costs. Development bank lending has diverse effects. Although it tends to boost growth and strengthen domestic accountability, it does not always guarantee the attainment of development goals. In this sense, the literature has found negative impacts on labor rights and forestry, while improvements in health and education cannot always be sustained in the long run.

Article

The definition of development has changed over the years since the inception of development economics as a sub-discipline of economics in the 1950s. Initially, development economics was understood as a study of how the economies of nation-states have grown and expanded, placing the discipline in line with the classical and neoclassical traditions of economics. Later, however, some scholars focused on how to improve the welfare of the population and the planet informing the critical tradition. The post-war economic development models were fundamentally classical, but they did allow for some state intervention to achieve development, demonstrating the influence of economist John Maynard Keynes. Postwar leftist development economics coalesced around structuralism and dependency theory, or world systems theory, the latter two having their roots in Marxist political economy. This influenced state-led development approaches most associated with the Asian Tigers. In the 1980s, neoliberal ideas came to dominate development economics, however the high social costs of this approach led to a greater focus on poverty, while more progressive scholars emphasized capabilities and redistribution with growth. Since the Global Financial Crisis, questioning of neoclassical economics has grown and, while it is still far from dead, more heterodox approaches are flourishing.

Article

Leondard E. Stanley and Ernesto Vivares

Development finance (DF) schemes in Latin America have shifted from neoliberal and conservative to neo-developmentalist and populist approaches with no effect on political, economic, social, and environmental circumstances. Regardless of the political-ideological bias of the ruling coalition, critical problems related to the contradictions imposed by the global insertion model have remained the same. The dynamics of ideas, institutions, and actors illustrate the DF network of power and legitimacy. The governance of DF is a contested historical process in which opposite ideas about development, supported by antagonistic groups, confront the political-economic orientations. Different governances are institutional devices that reflect diverse development ideas and specific political-economic settings. Regardless of the model, a generalized crisis questions financial globalization and advises a rethinking of the financing schemes.

Article

International development has remained a key driver of global economic relations since the field emerged in the mid-20th century. From its initial focus on colonization and state building, the field has grown to encompass a wide range of issues, theoretical problems, and disciplinary traditions. The year 1945 is widely considered as a turning point in the study of international development. Three factors account for this: the emergence of the United States as an economic hegemon after World War II; the ideological rivalry that defined the Cold War; and the period of decolonization that peaked around 1960, forcing development issues, including foreign aid, state building, and multilateral engagement, onto the global agenda. Since then, development paradigms have continuously evolved, adapted, and been reinvented to address the persistent gap between the prosperous economies of the “developed North” and the frequently troubled economies of the “Global South.” In the early 2000s, a loosely knit holistic paradigm emerged that recognized the deficiencies of its predecessors, yet built on their strengths. Now called “development cooperation,” this holistic approach embraces methodological pluralism in the scholarly study of development, while recognizing that multiple stakeholders contribute to the development agenda in practice from policy practitioners, entrepreneurs, and corporations to nonstate actors such as community groups and Indigenous peoples. In 2015, development cooperation was on full display with the adoption by 193 countries of the expansive United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to serve as the global guideposts for future development initiatives. While exceedingly optimistic in good times, the economic effects of the global pandemic wrought by the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 threatened to undo many of the perceived global gains realized in the development context over the preceding 25 years. Regardless of the speed of recovery of the global system, the profound reverberations on foreign aid and thus the backsliding of global progress indicators is a likely outcome for many years to come.

Article

Gamze Evcimen and Robert A. Denemark

The relationship between fundamentalism and globalization and the agency of social groups in weaving this relationship has generated a significant body of work. This growing body of literature has addressed which political-economic and sociocultural processes are associated with these processes; the manner in which this connection relates to modernity and colonialism; how paradigmatic shifts such as postcolonialism and neoliberalism brought about ruptures and reinforced continuities; and what roles new social actors and political constellations play. Related literature focuses on a broad range of processes, from global socioeconomic changes and urbanization to political constellations, global geoeconomic competition, and international migration. It includes authors who approach such multifaceted processes of fundamentalism and globalization from various perspectives. Recent scholarship also considers connections between fundamentalism and globalization and the rise of authoritarian politics in early 21st century. This dynamic relationship between fundamentalism and globalization presents a series of challenges for both social actors and scholars. How do postmodern deconstruction and reconstruction of modernity affect both ruptures and continuities in this relationship? In what ways does the rise of right-wing politics in early 21st century relate to phenomena such as Christian nationalism and Islamophobia as new forms of fundamentalism? How do the rise of the middle classes and new political-economic constellations relate to similar processes in the Global South? What kind of religious discourses and practices enable the sacralization of neoliberalism? Fundamentalism and globalization should be considered as inextricably embedded in social processes and practices that are both shaped by and actively shaping existing power relations.

Article

The room for dialogue between international law (IL) and international relations (IR) is vast. Since the emergence of the liberal world order in the 20th century, there is a growing closeness between IL and IR approaches. Latin America played a significant role in this process, helping to shape the liberal world order. Despite the fact that liberal approaches to IR and IL promote the most self-evident interdisciplinary dialogue, there is a growing intersection field in critical approaches to IR and IL that should be further explored, and Latin America also has a role to play in that cross-fertilization process. By analyzing critical approaches, the narrative in both disciplines can be expanded, bringing a Global South perspective to the mainstream debate. How did IL scholars read changes in the international system from the second half of the 20th century? How did IR scholars read changes in the role of IL in the international system at the beginning of the 21st century? What is the role of Latin America and its contribution to these changes? With this in mind, intersection spaces can be revealed where room for conceptual, methodological, and collaborative work can be explored.

Article

Africa has made significant progress at home and on the world stage that belies its image as the backwater of the global system. Far from being marginalized, African states have exercised their agency in the international system through an extensive mechanism of institutionalized diplomacy—anchored on the African Union (AU)—that they have forged over several decades of collective action. Changes are taking place in 21st-century Africa as a result of these collective efforts. Socioeconomic data from the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations, and the World Bank, indicate the economic, political, and demographic forces that are remaking Africa. Finally, the changes in Africa have implications for the evolving world order. Objective conditions warrant a reimagining of Africa as an agent in the international system, rather than as a passive victim of a predatory, anarchical order. Current challenges facing the post-war liberal international order make such reimagination imperative.

Article

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.