You are here

The Politics of Development

The Politics of Development

Edited by:

May 2024 | 392 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

A pathbreaking introduction to the controversial, contested and deeply political topic of development. Written in an engaging and eminently readable style, leading authors invite readers to examine the political dynamics behind some of today’s most complex global issues, from rising inequality and social exclusion to the climate crisis. By confronting false assumptions and dispelling myths, the book challenges readers to see politics as not only the obstacle to development, but also the means to achieve it.

The Politics of Development is grounded in the everyday challenges facing people around the world in accessing the vital resources they need to survive and thrive. It illustrates the unavoidable reality that politics shapes who gets what, when, how; whether in family settings, local communities, national stages or global arenas. It provides readers with a clear roadmap for action centred on institutions, interests, and ideas, to better navigate competing demands and push forward profound change.

There are no easy answers to the politics of development – instead, this book provides the analytical tools to understand why getting development right can be so hard and how you can positively respond to some of the critical challenges facing governments, societies and citizens around the world today.

This text is essential reading for any student of the politics of development or Development Studies, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Claire Mcloughlin is Associate Professor of Politics and Development, University of Birmingham, UK

Sameen Ali is Assistant Professor of International Development, University of Birmingham, UK

Kailing Xie is Assistant Professor of International Development, University of Birmingham, UK

Nicholas Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development, University of Birmingham, UK

David Hudson is Professor of Politics and Development, University of Birmingham, UK

Claire Mcloughlin, David Hudson, Nic Cheeseman, Sameen Ali, and Kailing Xie
1 Why is development political?
Zenobia Ismail
2 Whose knowledge counts? Global inequalities, knowledge production and the need for decolonisation
Jasmine Burnley, Niheer Dasandi, and David Hudson
3 Do institutions rule? Order, incentives, and norms
Sameen Ali, David Hudson, and Claire Mcloughlin
4 Development in whose interest? Elites, power, and collective action
Nic Cheeseman, Claire Mcloughlin, and Kate Pruce
5 What’s the big idea? Ideology, beliefs, and discourse
Nic Cheeseman
6 Are some governments better than others? Democracy, authoritarianism, and development states
Bizuneh Yimenu
7 Should markets rule? Economic policy, international financial institutions, and free trade
Chris Lyon and Ellie Chowns
8 Power to the people? Social movements, popular participation, and deepening democracy
Emily Scott
9 Follow the money? Global and local aid, donor influence, and reparations
Kailing Xie, Emeka Njoku, and Merisa Thompson
10 How does my identity matter? Intersectionality, positionality, and power relations
Soomin Oh and David Hudson
11 Why doesn’t everyone get the same? Inequality, exclusion, and inclusion
Claire Mcloughlin and Sameen Ali
12 How can I jump this queue? Petty corruption, clientelism, and other games within the rules
Fiona Nunan, Harriet Croome, and Chukwumerije Okereke
13 Can the planet cope with development? Sustainability, justice, and transformational political change
Jonathan Fisher and Claire Mcloughlin
14 When do people accept authority? Legitimacy, coercion, and the social contract
Jonathan Fisher and Paul Jackson
15 When does contestation turn violent? Conflict and peacebuilding

This book is destined to become essential reading in any university courses that consider the politics of development. It expertly unpicks the essentially political and painful nature of development, the core role of ‘contestation’, and the ideas, interests and institutions involved in both driving and blocking the expansion of the freedoms to be and to do that Amartya Sen identified as the true heart of human development. A wonderful addition to the literature.

Professor Duncan Green
Professor in International Development, London School of Economics

Development is political. That is the powerful and indisputable message of the authors of this book. Scholars and practitioners take note and start with this terrific and authoritative book.

Professor James A. Robinson
Professor of Global Conflict Studies, University of Chicago

Development is messy, contested, and deeply political. It impacts all aspects of our lives, especially if we are in particularly deprived communities and countries. It shapes age old problems like corruption, and more recent challenges like the climate crisis. The beauty of this book is that it covers the vast span of development, and its power-laden nature, in an engaging, accessible, and knowledgeable manner. It will be an excellent addition to reading lists.

Professor Nikita Sud
Professor of the Politics of Development, University of Oxford

The Politics of Development is an invaluable resource, bringing together in one place a lively and accessible overview of the politics of power, contestation and change. Not to be missed on any reading list in development studies.

Professor John Gaventa
Institute of Development Studies

The Politics of Development is clear and persuasive. It is centred on how institutions are shaped by people’s interests, and the importance of ideas to understand when development does, or doesn’t, happen. An important and lucid contribution in understanding how politics shape development.

Jakkie Cilliers
Chairperson of the Board, Head of African Futures & Innovation, Institute for Security Studies

The Politics of Development is an insightful and thought-provoking book that illuminates the inherent link between politics and development. It offers a comprehensive framework to better understand global power dynamics and empowers readers to actively transform the world. A must-read for students of development everywhere.

Dr Ivica Petrikova
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway University of London

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 Why is development political?

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase or sample this product on our Sage College Publishing site:

Go To College Site

Free webinar. Teaching the politics of development when everything about development is political