Understanding international development
Understanding international development

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Understanding international development

1.1 Framing international development

PASH is a framework for thinking critically about international development. Before discussing the value of these themes read Chapter 2 ‘Contesting development in theory and practice’. This provides an introduction to the three key themes although it does so without actually referring to them as PASH.

Activity 1

Timing: 7 hours 45 minutes

Read Chapter 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   ‘Contesting development in theory and practice’. Take notes as you read.

Think of PASH as providing an overarching framework to help you make sense of the course as a whole. But why have we chosen these particular themes and not others? For example, we could have chosen a conventional social science discipline, such as economics, political science, sociology, geography, anthropology and cultural studies. However, international development is an interdisciplinary area of study covering all of these departments. In particular, in this course you will see an emphasis given to theories of international relations in international development, that is, that development is a process that impacts on, and is impacted by, the relations between states in the world system. Therefore, the PASH framework enables us to cut across and bring together ideas from each of these fields of study.

We can, for example, apply the PASH framework to an understanding of development as ‘good change’ (Chambers, 1997). Such a definition by itself carries little meaning so the word ‘change’ has to be unpacked. Fundamental to your study of this course, therefore, is the exploration of how and why change in all of its manifestations occurs. Taking this imperative as my starting point:

  • The evidence base for how and why change occurs today is linked to how it has occurred in the past. In other words, a historical perspective is essential.
  • People make change, both consciously and unconsciously. In this sense they exhibit agency. However, this agency is mediated by their power to effect change. Therefore, power and agency are linked inextricably in the creation of change and of who makes and benefits from it. We hope that you can also envisage a continuum where history concerns past change while power and agency concern the making of change in the present and future. As just noted, who creates change and who benefits or loses from it are tied to power and agency.
  • Another cut across change is to consider it at different scales – for example, local, national and international – and how change at one scale affects change at another. This consideration of scale is particularly appropriate to a course on international development, where actions on an international scale impact at regional and national through to local scales – and vice versa.
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