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Is Democratic Development an Oxymoron?

by Francesco Zaratin on 13th May 2014

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Editors note:  This is an abstract detailing the content of Francesco Zaratin’s article: Is democratic development an oxymoron? The article can be found in full here.  

The formula “democratic development” can mean a development process carried out within a democratic political context and/or a development involving, democratically, all strata of a society. To say that this formula is an oxymoron is to say that no development can be really democratic, that these two categories can’t go together. The aim of this article is to challenge these assumptions coming up with some ideas to favour a more democratic development for the Global South.

To do so, the concept of development is analysed explaining that – even though it should suit the Global South – its ethos is mainly rooted in the West. Its problems derive from its Western-centrism, as it doesn’t meet the needs of people in the Global South, it is exported in a standardized way without accounting for cultural differences and most of all, it is excessively imbued with the dogma of economic growth.

To be more democratic, development therefore requires to be more responsive vis-a-vis the needs and culture of people in emerging countries and to abandon the sheer logic of economic growth in favour of more human standards.

Another, more innovative point is introduced: the need for a more holistic approach to development, meaning a development that integrates the economic, social and political spheres, harmoniously empowering locals on all of these three levels. This arises from the realization that economic problems in the Global South are tightly linked to bad political management.

The ideal context in which to apply this new approach to development is thought to be at the local, village, micro-reality.

A new strategy for international cooperation within the framework of this alternative approach to development is finally outlined, pushing for a more advisory and empowerment-based role for non-governmental organisations.

Read on  here.  

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Francesco Zaratin's areas of main interest are Asia and alternatives to growth and development. His critical thoughts towards growth and development come from the works of Serge Latouche and Ivan Illich but also from the perspective gained by seeing the West from the outside, while living in Asia.

He currently lives in Italy, researching to apply for a PhD.

Francesco has written 1 posts on Post Growth Institute. Contact Francesco

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