This book is about the ways in which political ideologies shape the construction of knowledge for development. A central theme concerns the impact of neo-liberalism on contemporary development theory and research. The book’s main objectives are twofold. One is to understand the ways in which neo-liberalism has framed and defined the ‘meta-theoretical’ aims and assumptions of what is deemed relevant, important and appropriate to the study of development. A second is to explore the theoretical and ideological terms on which an alternative to neo-classical theory may be theorized, idealized and pursued. By tracing the impact of Marxism, postmodernism and liberalism on the study of development, Arresting Development contends that development has become increasingly fragmented in terms of the theories and methodologies it uses to understand and explain complex and contextually-specific processes of economic development and social change.
Outside of neo-classical economics (and related fields of rational choice), the notion that social science can or should aim to develop general and predictive theories about development has become mired in a philosophical and political orientation that questions the ability of scholars to make universal or comparative statements about the nature of history, cultural diversity and progress. To advance the debate, a case is made that development needs to re-capture what the American sociologist Peter Evans once called the ‘comparative institutional method.’ At the heart of this approach is an inductive methodology that searches for commonalities and connections to broader historical trends and problems while at the same time incorporating divergent and potentially competing views about the nature of history, culture and development.
This book will be of interest to scholars and students of Development, Social and Political Studies and it will also be beneficial to professionals interested in the challenge of constructing "knowledge for development."
Dr. Craig Johnson is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Development at the University of Guelph in Canada. His research and professional interests centre upon the governance of social policies aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters and macro-economic change.
Dr. Johnson has extensive field experience in South and Southeast Asia, having managed and conducted field studies in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam. He has worked with a large number of international development agencies, including DFID, CIDA, IDRC, SDC and the Ford Foundation. Between 2000 and 2002 he worked with the Overseas Development Institute, where he co-managed the “South Asia Livelihood Options Study,” which was funded by DFID and involved primary research in the Indian States of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Between 2003 and 2006, he worked on a CIDA-funded study of globalization and poverty in India, which studied the performance and socio-economic implications of private education in Madhya Pradesh.
Dr. Johnson has published widely in the field of international development, primarily on issues relating to poverty, vulnerability, decentralization and accountability in development policy and practice.