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Development and Social Action

Development and Social Action

Introduced by Miloon Kothari
Series Editor: Deborah Eade
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Oxfam GB
Pages: 192
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    Development and Social Action
    Book Description:

    Contributors to this book draw on experiences of social action from as far afield as Belgium and Brazil, in areas such as new social movements, governance and the state of law, North-South NGO relations and development theatre for social and political change.

    eISBN: 978-0-85598-695-7
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-2)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 3-4)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 5-8)
    Deborah Eade
  4. Globalisation, social action, and human rights
    (pp. 9-33)
    Miloon Kothari

    The concern with social action and development dates back to the struggles for independence in the period following World War II. The original notion of development was to open up spaces for deprived social sectors who were themselves often deeply involved in the struggles for self-determination. In that context the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was conceived, and the United Nations (UN) was set up to promote processes which subsequently gave rise to the concept of development. The state was supposed to be, in its counter-imperial and post-colonial role, a catalyst for social action: a role that received serious...

  5. Inclusive, just, plural, dynamic: building a ‘civil’ society in the Third World
    (pp. 34-53)
    Smitu Kothari

    I shall begin by briefly citing six among thousands of recent events which highlight the efforts of civil society in the Third World¹ to reaffirm its democratic and political potential and which underscore the endemic problems in the dominant economic and political processes — problems which are severely constraining and, in many cases, destroying, the very basis of survival on the planet. These events give us a profound insight into the struggle to build a ‘civil’ society in the Third World.

    Some three years ago, 40 representatives of Pakistani NGOs gathered in Islamabad to discuss how their various activities could...

  6. Civil society and substantive democracy: governance and the state of law in Belgium
    (pp. 54-70)
    Koenraad Van Brabant

    Governance and the role of civil society in achieving good governance have received much attention in mainstream development thinking in the 1990s. Power and politics are thus introduced into the discussion.

    The good-governance agenda follows an earlier focus on the state as economic actor. Just as governments were formerly advised to allow more space for private economic actors, they are now supposed to allow more players on to the scene in which power is wielded. Room must be given to citizens to organise themselves independently and to influence politics and government policies. Where it was not yet in place, the...

  7. EURODAD’s campaign on multilateral debt: the 1996 HIPC debt initiative and beyond
    (pp. 71-86)
    Sasja Bökkerink and Ted van Hees

    ‘Multilateral debt is not a widespread problem for Severely Indebted Low Income Countries’, wrote the World Bank in September 1994.¹ Ten months later, an internal World Bank document called for the establishment of a ‘Multilateral Debt Facility’ to reduce the multilateral debt burden of 24 likely candidates.² This would be part of a co-ordinated effort of bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors to bring the debt burden of developing countries to a sustainable level. Six months on, the IMF joined the World Bank in proposals to resolve the debt problem of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), including the multilateral debt problem.³...

  8. A new age of social movements: a fifth generation of non-governmental development organisations in the making?
    (pp. 87-103)
    Ignacio de Senillosa

    It is easier to write about what to do than to do it. Writing does not require courage, but courage can be needed for action … [and action] involves conflicts of interest where the weak are dominated, exploited and cheated by the powerful … There are times for confrontation and big reversal: there are critical periods when small pushes can move major decisions, resources or systems one way or another: but most common are the times for patient work on small things. (Chambers, 1983:193 and 216)

    What we have in common with the situation in the developing countries is that...

  9. NGOs and advocacy: how well are the poor represented?
    (pp. 104-119)
    Warren Nyamugasira

    A growing number of non-government organisations (NGOs), North and South, have intensified their advocacy work in an attempt to surmount the constraints placed on their development efforts by the global powers that be—both economic and political—which they allege serve interests other than those of the poor. They have come to the sad realisation that, although they have achieved many micro-level successes, the systems and structures that determine power and resource allocations—locally, nationally, and globally—remain largely intact. Therefore, they need to find ways to ‘scale up’ their influence upon these determinants, so that their small-scale successes have...

  10. Disaster without memory: Oxfam’s drought programme in Zambia
    (pp. 120-132)
    K. Pushpanath

    Disaster response has been described as the last resort of the amateur, an unkind assessment but not without a grain of truth. Disaster generates an emotional response and, with each new disaster, new disaster organisations are born. And past lessons on disaster management have to be learnt anew. (World Disasters Report 1993, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva)

    Disaster in Southern Africa is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the region has suffered and continues to endure more than its share of disasters — political and so-called natural. In Angola alone, the UN currently estimates that at...

  11. Development theatre and the process of re-empowerment: the Gibeon story
    (pp. 133-149)
    Alex Mavrocordatos

    Without empowerment there can be no development. Ownership of knowledge and action by a community must underpin any project undertaken in partnership with them. The case for empowerment has been argued frequently and eloquently elsewhere. The question is where to begin in the process, identifying the point of entry or initial engagement between partners, and the guiding principle or methodology that may be involved.

    In the context of the sometimes systematic disenfranchisement of communities by government or colonising powers, it may be preferable to address the notion of ‘re-empowerment’. Thierry Verhelst has argued that it is those ‘internalised features’ of...

  12. Transparency for accountability: civil-society monitoring of Multilateral Development Bank anti-poverty projects
    (pp. 150-157)
    Jonathan Fox

    The multilateral development banks (MDBs) have significantly increased their lending for ‘targeted’ anti-poverty projects since the early 1990s, but few systematic, independent, field-based assessments of their effectiveness are available. In spite of much-improved civil-society monitoring of MDB environmental and macro-economic impact, field-based analysis of their anti-poverty lending has lagged behind.

    Monitoring and evaluation (M&E;) is necessary to provide feedback to decision-makers and stakeholders regarding what kinds of anti-poverty programme are successful and why. M&E; is also necessary to hold policy-makers accountable for policies and programmes that do not work, and it is therefore an essential component of good governance. Yet...

  13. Strengthening unions: the case of irrigated agriculture in the Brazilian North East
    (pp. 158-162)
    Didier Bloch

    About half of the Brazilian North East is occupied by theSertao, a semi-desert area some three times the size of Great Britain, which is both very poor and densely populated. The region is, however, crossed by the San Francisco river, whose valley, especially around the towns of Petrolina and Juazeiro, has been the scene of huge socio-economic upheavals.

    The first occurred in two stages, corresponding to the filling in 1979 and 1987 of two World Bank-funded hydro-electric dams: as a direct result, 100,000 people were displaced, some of whom became landless.

    The second, more gradual, upheaval started in the...

  14. The People’s Communication Charter
    (pp. 163-172)
    Cees J. Hamelink

    Development has never seemed so easy to achieve. An abundance of Utopian scenarios promise sustainable development once digital highways have been constructed. The deployment of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) is to usher in a ‘new civilisation’, an ‘information revolution’, or a ‘knowledge society’.

    This line of thought emphasises historical discontinuity as a major consequence of technological developments. New social values will evolve, new social relations will develop, and the ‘zero sum society’ comes to a definite end, once ICTs have realised worldwide access to information for all.

    The current highway Utopias forecast radical changes in economics, politics, and...

  15. Annotated bibliography
    (pp. 173-188)
  16. Organisations concerned with social action (postal addresses at the end of the bibliography)
    (pp. 188-190)
  17. Addresses of publishers and other organisations
    (pp. 190-193)