Posted on Leave a comment

Arguments for Transnational Corporations in Development

Modernisation theory saw TNCs as playing a positive role in helping societies to develop. Rostow (1971) saw the injection of capital as essential in the pre-conditions for take-off phase of development, and he thought TNC’s were one of the institutions which could help kick start the process of development by investing money, technology, and expertise that the host country did not possess.

It is neoliberals, however, who have historically been the real champions of TNCs as the most efficient institutions to kick-start and carry through development in poor countries. In neoliberal theory, economic success is proof of competence – the fact that TNCs have been making goods efficiently at a profit on a global scale for decades, if not centuries, mean that these are the institutions best placed to kick start economic growth in poor countries.

Neoliberals argue that the governments of developing countries need to pull down all barriers in order to create a ‘business-friendly’ environment in order to encourage inward investment from Transnational Corporations.

In Neoliberal theory, corporations will help a country develop in the long term by providing jobs and training. The money earned will be spent on goods and services at home and abroad creating more money to invest and (limited) tax revenue for further development.

A summary of the supposed benefits TNCs can bring to developing countries

  • TNCs bring in investment in terms of money, resources, technology and expertise, creating jobs often where local companies are unable to do so.
  • TNCs need trained workers and this should raise the aspirations of local people and encourage improvements in education
  • Jobs provide opportunities for women promoting gender equality.
  • Encourage international trade which could increase economic growth, access to overseas markets
  • All of the above means that wealth generated from TNC investment and production should eventually trickle down to the rest of the population.
Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

The Neoliberal Approach to Education Reform

Stephen Ball argues that there are four central mechanisms through which neoliberalism has transformed the British education system (these are also the mechanisms of public service reform more generally):

  1. Top down performance management
  2. Greater competitivenss and contestability
  3. Choice and voice
  4. Measures to strengthen the capability of public servants to deliver improved public services

 All of this leads to a self-improving system.

neoliberal-education

A lot of discursive work has gone into making the case for public service reform. Challenges and changes in public attitudes make reform necessary. Lister (2000) argues this is a discourse which has no opposition.

These four policy genealogies run through from the conservative government of 1979 to New Labour and can be traced into the Coalition government. Although there is no simple, linear relationship between government to government, overall there has been a gradual weakening of the welfare model of public service provision.

The initial moves can be traced back to certain neoliberal think tanks and individuals such as Joseph Seldon, Hayek, the Inst for Ec Affairs, Centre for Policy Studies, Adam Smith Institute, and later on the following:

  • Giddens – The Third Way
  • Michael Barber – World Class Education (NB MkKinsey)
  • Tom Bentley – Creativity
  • Charles Leadbeater – Personalisation
  • Andrew Adonis – Academies/ Selection
  • David Halpern/ Social Capital/ nudge economies

Ideas underpinning the policy commitment of the ‘new’ conservatives are supported and reinforced by the existence of a sprawling and highly interconnected network of influence. (NB – there is an awfully huge sum of money in the UK education system!) Ball and Exely 2010

These ideas also chime with various gateways of centre right thinking

  • Conservative Home CEsociety
  • Ian Duncan Smith – Welfare Reform/ Social Justice
  • Philip Blond
  • Sheila Lawlor Anti statiism Traditionalism
  • Policy Exchange

There are biases that emerge from think tank policy making – urban/ London/ middle class.

 Top Down Performance Management

Has its origin in the Ruskin Speech – the notion that education was no longer seen as fit for purpose – the profession being seen as both resistant to change and too progressive. The construction of the untrustworthy teacher and the mediatisation of policy – Tyndale School – Lead to the National Curriculum and the 1988 Education Act – and here starts the long history of the denigration of teachers.

Introduction of league tables in 1992 – providing market information to parents and national and local press- coverage has now become ritualistic (Warmington and Murphy 2004) – public discourse now centres around good and bad schools.

New Labour took these ideas much further – standards being one of the buzzwords of 1998. Ministers started to judge themselves by standards, and meeting national targets.

The setting of national targets is indicative of the reconceptualisation of the education system as a single entity and as a fundamental component of national economic competitiveness.

Ozga (2008) describes regimes of audit, inspection, evaluation and testing and the use of measurement and comparison as governing by numbers and as forms of governing knowledge that constitute a ‘resource through which surveillance can be excercised’.

We now have a discourse which centres around around failing and underpefrorming schools and Fresh Start Schools governed by Superheads

The Coalition took up governance-by-numbers (Ozga 2010) and changed key performance indicators – E-bacc, eliminated 2000 courses from GCSE indicators, and raised benchmark targets.

It also made strategic comparisons between unreformed and progressive schools.

Macguire 2004 – we now have a cycle of problem, solution, success and new problem…

 Competition and Contestability

Hatcher (2000) refers to endogenous and exogenous privatisation – The first of these was emphasised by early conservatives – making public sector organisations act in a more business like way by creating quasi-market systems – mainly through linking funding to recruitment and thus consumer choice and devolving managerial and budgetary responsibility…. and publishing league tables.

Then tweaking to avoid cream skimming/ exclusions.

There are three main aspects to the ‘drivers’ embedded in the theory of quasi market competition –

  • efficiency – more focus on performance, assumes outputs are appropriate
  • market failure – taking over failing schools
  • bringing in choice as a competitive force.

This third aspect does not sit well with top down performance management – as pupils are valued differently, with white middle class students generally seen as being the best value.

Labour gave much more emphasis to exogenous contestability – allowing new providers to come in….. Flexible contracting… Outsourcing. Connexions National Strategies. – If public models don’t work the private sector takes over! – Creates diversity of providers.

A final element here is diversity – More faith schools, grammar schools, grant-maintained schools, CTCs, Specialist schools and of course academies alongside a criticism of ‚Bog standard comprehensives‘ and weakening the role of LEAs

The Coalition took this further – extending academies, and introducing free schools.

ALL OF the below respond to glob and choice and voice.

Choice and Voice

This involves power being but in the hands of the service users, and the system is open, diverse, flexible (Blair, 2005). This supposedly provides incentives for driving up standards, promotes equality, and facilitates personalisation – all of which are contestable. Choice and voice are part of the move from a producer to a consumer culture and are about creating citizen-consumers (Clarke et al 2007), although experiements with voucher schemes by the conservatives have not been extended.

2006 legistation offered parents the possibility of ‘personalisation through participation’ – as part of an ‘agenda’ of government to reconfigure the environment for learning with new spaces and time frames both within and outside of the school day and incorporating new technologies. Ball argues that this can be read as a decomposition of a universal system of education – moving towards commodification.

Student participation was made mandatory in the 2002 Education Act and is now part of OFSTED inspections.

He now notes that choice policies increase inequality along class lines – classic Ball!

Choice Policies were accelerated by new labour in order to appeal to its individualistic, middle class voter base, and taken a stage further by the Coalition with ‘Free Schools’.

Choice policies (free schools) reflect a number of different aspects of Coalition Policy – greater choice, more competition, new ways of tackling deprivation, traditionalism, local community involvement and marginalisation or LEAs, and opening up opps for business.

While businesses are calling for more chains, it is unclear the extent to which the profit motive is manifest – it remains unclear. Where academy chains and communities are concerned, there is a tension between neoliberalism and classical liberalism.

Ball cites The New Schools Network,  University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools as examples of where the Coalition government is taking education.

Taken together this involves what Castells (2000) calls ‘reprogramming’ – addressing social problems through philanthropy, social ent and market solutions to supplement or displace state action. This extends to many areas of education – teacher education and development, school management, curriculum development, HE, policy research, NEETs.

These changes are not simply about who does what, they are about changing the forms and purposes of public services.

Capability and Capacity

 Again contains a dual element of intervention and devolution – a further set of moves through a new discourse of leadership, which enhances the roles of public sector managers, crucial agents of change, and the ‘remodelling’ of the teaching workforce as part of a more general strategy of ‘flexibilisation’ and ‘skill mix’ across the public services. This also involves reprofessionalisation (training a new cadre of school leaders) and de-professionalisation – in that teachers jobs are more closely scrutinised, more LA’s and now the abolition of the GTC with the Teaching Agency, tying teacher’s pay more to performance.

Policy moves to bring about improved capability and capacity have three dimensions –

  • Leadership
  • Collaboration/ Partnership
  • Remodelling teachers.

Leadership – Heads play a crucial role in reculturing schools – New Labour’s ideal leader instills responsiveness, efficiency and performance improvement – and they emphasise the above three!

The NCSL – And the Headship Qualification are two relatively new innovations here.

Leaders are managers of performance, not teachers – discourse of school leadership is drawn from Business writing and gurus (see Thomson 2009 and Gunter 2011).

Collaberation/ Partnership – Under the coalition, management has become about competition and co-operation – possibly just rhetoric. Michael Gove sees innovative schools as being models for other schools, these and academies and federations are seen as working together to drive up standards. Partnerships are also part of this – a buzzword of new labour – but this is a slippery word that dissolves the difference between private and public sector while obscuring the relationship between financial relations and power.

Remodelling of teachers – Performance related pay set at an institutional level – teachers are now seen as units of labour to be managed (Mahoney 2004) also academies and free schools allow the appointment of non qualified teachers.

This is transnational – and Smyth et al (2000) argue that they make sense of what is happening to teachers work with practical and emancipatory intent requires a critical theory capable of connecting globalisation to the every day life of the classroom.

Teacher net – The teacher workload study – teacher working hours fifty to sixty working hours a week are the norm.

Also mentions teach first as being part of this.

Over time as the effect of these policy moves teachers have been remade within policy and their work and the meaning of teaching have been discursively rearticulated: there is a new language about what teahers do and how they talk about themselves.

Bates 2012 – Coalition publications seem to prepare the ground for increased differentiation within the teaching profession.

Conclusion

What is happening within this ensemble of policies is a modelling of the internal and external relations of schooling and public service provision on those of commercial and market institutions. This involves new relations of power in the way policy is made. This means a wearing away of professional-ethical regimes and their value systems and their replacement with entr-competitive regimes and new value systems. Also involves the increasing subordination of education to the economic and rendering of education into the commodity form.

Education is increasingly for profit and education plays its part in fostering an entr culture and the cultivating of entr subjects. Parents are cast as consumers and offered personalized learning, and schools are expected to compete and yet also cooperate.

This is also a reorientation to economic global competitiveness as part of a global flow of policy based around a shift towards a knowledge based high skills economy, although conceptualisations of this are vague.

Inside classrooms teachers are caught between the imperatives of prescription and the disciplines of performance. Their practise is both steered and rowed. Teachers are not trusted, and exemplars of best practise are standards against which all are judged.

Key to all of this are the league tables, but what is avoided is what these indicators actually stand for. And whether they represent meaningful outputs. Does the adaption of pedagogy actually mean improvement?

Also this is part of a new global policyscape – involving more advocates and pressure groups.

Sources

Stephen Ball – ‘The Education Debate’ (2013)

Posted on Leave a comment

Care of the self, resistance and subjectivity under neoliberal governmentalities – A Summary

In this recent article – Care of the self, resistance and subjectivity under neoliberal subjectivities Stephen Ball (2012)  effectively argues that teachers who resist the multiple demands of professionalism and just struggle to be themselves are resisting the dominant discourses of neoliberalism.

based on a set of email exchanges with teachers about the terrors of performativity and revises Ball’s 2003 affirmation that performativity has no room for caring.

Ball argues that by acting irresponsibly teachers teachers take responsibility for the care of their selves and make it clear that the social reality is not as inevitable as it may seem. This is not strategic action, but a process of struggle against mundane, quotidian neoliberalisations, that creates the possibility of thinking about education and ourselves differently.

Ball has nothing against collective resistance and decentred unities – but this article is about the teacher who stands alone and thinks the system is cracked – one in which neoliberal governmentalities have become increasingly focused upon the production of subjectivity, so we need to think about subjectivity as a site of struggle.

Ball draws heavily on Foucault (1982) who suggests the struggle over subjectivity is crucial.

This study starts with the empirical — and sketches a new economy of power relations – by looking  at specific forms of resistance (specifically around performativity) to show how they bring to light power relations.

The struggles in this study are against a technique of power – namely performativity; it is about ordinary teachers who ask questions about the how of power and the hows of his or her beliefs and practice. In these moments of questioning the power relations in which he or she is imbricated come to the fore. It is then that they can come to take an active role in their own self-definition as a teaching subject. THE WHOLE PROCESS of writing (including the email exchanges) is a process through which an individual ‘takes care of themselves’.

Later Foucault (1997) asks – how are human beings made subjects, how are we constituted as subjects of our own knowledge? How are we constituted as subjects who exercise or submit to power relations? How are we constituted as moral subjects of our own actions?

Teaching Subjects

Clarifying concepts…

The subject is a form – not a substance – so the idea of subjectivity is that it is always in a process of becoming – so we should focus on what we do rather than what we are. The self is always open – it is a paradox – a constant beginning and a constant end, the subject is governed by others but also by him or herself…. there is always the possibility of resistance. However modes of governance are imposed on the individual by his culture…. (NB for teachers there are many ways this happens, but also for students!).

‘We are interested here in what could be called the teaching subject – the teacher as a subject that has been constituted and that has constituted him herself through certain practices of power and games of truth in a particular epistemological context. In our case, we want to disentangle in this context the mechanisms put into play by neoliberalism as a new regime of truth. NL introduces competition – a move from government to governance, from hierarchies to heterachies…. to a homo economis – an entrepreneur of himself.

NL sets the cultural and social limits to the possibilities of the care of the self, but opens up new spaces for struggle and resistance (NB – personally I think that just walking around stating the logic of the system truthfully counts as resistance).

Irresponsibility as resistance

Focuses on how teachers ways of being can resist governmentality.

Neoliberalism requires and enacts a ‘new type of individual’ that is formed within the logic of competition. It is a new kind of moral order which requires us to perform – there are two technologies which turn us into governable subjects – a technology of agency and a technology or performance – we are produced rather than oppressed, animated rather than constrained.

Quotes Martin – talking about his headmaster etc… they see no problem with, for example, impression management, or of constant improvement.

The rationality of performativity is presented as the new common sense…. it works best when we come to want it for ourselves…. resisting performativity at a discursive level requires the capacity to examine ourselves critically – like what the teachers are doing by emailing him.

The tropes of ‘demoralization, depression, frustration and stress are tropes of experience which reoccur in these emails. These are the responses to externally imposed regimes of truth – things such as OFSTED inspections.

These reveal the fact that the inspection, or top down management initiatives which look to collect more data are actually practices of domination (not power, which there is nothing wrong with)… because they do not allow for dialogue to take place. They imply the almost total impossibility of freedom.

The critiques of teachers represent an attitude of hyper and pessimistic activism as Foucault called it. – and are uncovering what Lazaratto identified as the core strategies of neoliberal transformation of the social – individualisation, insecuritisation and depolitization…. this is more than simply understanding the teaching subject as an entrepreneur of himself, performativity implies accepting that these are the things we do to ourselves and others.

Observations  individualize – the data from observations becomes the basis of social relations. The latter become increasingly fleeting and re replaced with judgmental relations in which teachers and students are valued for their productivity alone. Their value as a person is eradicated.

In the realm of performativity value replaces values… (Peters 2001) – and they divide – reward and exile the ‘irresponsible’ who fail to re-make themselves in the image of the market.

Resisting that works

 A target driven culture forces teachers to measure themselves against what works, no longer can we, or are we allowed to find meaning in what we do, but we need to justify and prove ourselves in terms of rhetoric. In the words of Judith Butler… ‘I am other to myself precisely at the place where I expect myself to be’ 2004

What is being called into question here is the way in which knowledge circulates and functions, its relations to power.

Quotes Paul who is becoming politicized by challenging dominant notions of power…

Nice quote about being aware of the data-drivers – hyper-accountability – the idea that students must make 3 levels of progress agress.

Two regimes of truth are in opposition here – two systems of value and values – One produces measurable teaching subjects, whose qualities are represented in categories of judgement. The other is vested in a pedagogic  of context and experience, intelligible within a set of collegiate relations.

Nigel’s quote about teachers who have managed to engage with students, but there is nothing ‘excellent’ about this!

Ultimately these resistances have to do with the right to develop a particular technology of the self – the right to define ourselves according to our own values and judgments – where we question what we are and what we may become… our askesis.

Walter outlines the problem of resisting the performative demands of the job – silence is easier… and so resistance takes the form of deciphering, understanding, unraveling and re-translating.

Ethics = applied resistance.. working on the self, trying to be ourselves at the moment of discomfort.

The email is part of this resistance – Foucault himself said writing was an important part of self-transformation.

There are costs of doing this – the micro politics of little fears (Lazaratto) and of being silent – who bears this cost…?

Part of this struggle is simply against being excellent, and grounded in ‘my experience’, not against grand narratives, just  about taking control and redefining the moment…!

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Sociology in the News

This seems to be a clear-cut (and very unfortunate) example of overt discrimination on the basis of religion:

juhel-miah-discrimination
Juel Miah – A victim of U.S. discrimination

On 16th February, Juhel Miah, a respected British Muslim schoolteacher travelling as part of a school trip to New York was denied entry to the United States.

He was travelling from Wales with a group of children and other teachers and was removed from the plane while on a stop-over in Reykjavik, Iceland, despite having all the necessary documentation including a valid Visa for entry into the U.S.

The articles don’t state as much, but I’m assuming that all other non-Muslim adults on the plane weren’t escorted off.

Juhel has asked the American Embassy for an explanation of why he was refused entry to the U.S, but one week on and they haven’t responded.

This seems to be an unambiguous (but bleak), real-life example to illustrate what discrimination is – in this case differential treatment on the basis of someone’s religion. It could also be used to illustrate the extent to which Islamophobia is driving U.S. immigration policy.

Source – The Guardian, Monday 20th February.

You might also like The Independent’s version

 

Posted on Leave a comment

More Arguments for Official Development Aid

The following two thinkers argue that aid can work, but it needs to be better targeted in order to be effective. This is really a return to ‘neo-modernisation theory’.

Paul Collier (2008)

Collier’s analysis of aid suggests that aid is merely a ‘holding operation preventing things from falling apart’. However, he does argue that without aid, the countries of the bottom billion would have become even poorer than they are today.

However, Collier’s evidence also indicates that the more aid is increased, the less is the return on economic growth. Collier argues that aid is often rendered ineffective by two obstacles, or traps in some recipient countries:

  • The conflict trap – too many countries receiving foreign aid are engaged in expensive civil wars or military conflicts with their neighbours.
  • The bad governance trap – Collier highlights the problem of kleptocracies – the corrupt elites which run many developing societies. The commission for Africa estimated that the amount of money stolen by corrupt elites and held in foreign bank accounts is equivalent to more than half of Africa’s debts.

Collier argues that these traps prevent aid from being spent effectively – because a significant proportion of aid money gets siphoned off into funding the military or simply into the pockets of rich elites.

Peter Riddell (2007)

Riddell (2007) argues that rich countries need to shoulder the blame for the failure of aid because:

  1. They often fail to distribute it to the countries that need it. For example, less than half of all aid is channelled to the poorest countries.
  1. There are too many donors and projects, which fail to co-operate with each other and undermines the effectiveness of aid.
  1. Aid agencies often fail to promote a sense of ownership of development projects among local people, and so the projects fail because the locals don’t support them.

Sources

Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.

Sources

Should Foreign Aid be Abandoned or Adapted? Huffington Post Article

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Criticisms of Official Development Aid

Criticism 1 – The most vociferous recent critiques of Official Development Aid comes in the form of Dambisa Moyo’s recent book (2009) Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working And How there is another way for Africa. At root, her most basic criticism  is that Official Development Aid hasn’t actually generated significant economic growth in recipient countries. According to Moyo

‘Over the past thirty years, the most aid-dependent countries have exhibited growth rates of minus 0.2% per annum.  Looked at as a whole, Africa has had over $1 trillion dollars of aid money pumped into it over the last 60 years and not much good to show for it.’

Criticism 2 (Neoliberalism) – Aid stifles the development of small businesses.

Moyo explains how this works as below…..

‘There’s a mosquito net maker in Africa. He manufactures around 500 nets a week. He employs 10 people, who each have to support upwards of 15 relatives. However hard they work, they cannot make enough nets to combat the malaria-carrying mosquito.

Enter vociferous Hollywood movie star who rallies the masses, and goads Western governments to collect and send 100, 000 mosquito nets to the affected region, at a cost of $1 million, The nets arrive, the nets are distributed and a good deed is done.

With the market flooded with foreign nets, however, our mosquito net maker is promptly out of business. His ten workers can no longer support their dependents.

Now think of what happens 5 years down the line when the mosquito nets are torn and beyond repair, we have now mosquito nets, and no local industry to build any more. The long term effect of the ‘aid injection’ has been to decimate the local economy and make the local population dependent on foreign aid from abroad.

Criticism 3 (Neoliberalism) – Aid Encourages Corruption

In 2004 the British envoy to Kenya, Sir Edward Clay, complained about rampant corruption in the country, commenting that Kenya’s corrupt ministers were ‘eating like gluttons’ and vomiting on the shoes of foreign donors. In February 2005 (prodded to make a public apology), he apologised, saying he was sorry for the ‘moderation’ of his language, for underestimating the scale of the looting and for failing to speak out earlier

According to Dambisa Moyo – If the world has one image of African statesmen, it is one of rank corruption on a stupendous scale. One of the best examples of this is Mobutu, who is estimated to have looted Zaire to the tune of $5 billion. He is also famous for leasing Concorde to fly his daughter to her wedding in the Ivory Coast shortly after negotiating a lucrative aid deal with Ronald Regan in the 1980s.

Moyo further argues that at least 25% of World Bank Aid is misused. One of the worst examples is in Uganda in the 1990s – where it is estimated that only 20% of government spending on education actually made it to local primary schools.

Moyo argues that growth cannot occur in an environment where corruption is rife. There are any number of ways in which corruption can retard growth.

  • Corruption leads to worse development projects – corrupt government officials award contracts to those who collude in corruption rather than the best people for the job. This results in lower-quality infrastructure projects.
  • Foreign companies will not invest in countries where corrupt officials might siphon off investment money for themselves rather than actually investing that money in the country’s future.
  • Aid is corrosive in that it encourages exceptionally talented people to become unprincipled – putting their efforts into attracting and siphoning off aid rather than focussing on being good politicians or entrepreneurs.

Criticism 4 – A final Neoliberal criticism of Aid is that too much aid money is spent on salaries, admin fees and conferences. Not only are these often secretive and not open to account, but this also means reduced money spent on actual development. The aid industry employs hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. For example, in the UK DEFA spent £248 million on administration in 2007/08. This has led to some referring to aid agencies as the lords of poverty – ironically, it is actually in the interests of these bureacractic agencies for poverty to exist, or thousands of people would be out of work.

Criticism 5 – Dependency theory argues there is a political agenda to aid

The allocation of US and UK aid has often depended on whether the political ideology of the developing country has met with Western Approval. Dependency theorists argue that the main point of aid is to make the recipients dependent on the donors. Many neo-marixsts argue that along with aid packages comes western values, advice, culture, and aid merely ensures that the interests of west are maintained.

  • During the cold war developing countries were rewarded with aid if they aligned themselves with the Capitalist west and against the Socialist regimes of Eastern Europe and China. Both the UK and U.S. governments refused aid to the Ethiopian government in the early 80s on the grounds that the government was Socialist.
  • A similar focus is also found in US military aid. Much military aid was sent to South America where it was used by right wing governments to repress socialist movements that were opposed to the interests of US multinationals.
  • Even with the fall of the cold war, countries are still rewarded for promoting western interests. Kenya was rewarded in 1991 for providing the US with port facilities during the gulf war while Turkey was denied US aid for not allowing them to lease its air bases.
  • In 2005 developing nations were rewarded for assisting the Bush regime’s war on terror.

NB Tied aid is now illegal in the UK by virtue of the International Development Act, which came into force on 17 June 2002. Other countries, however, still only provide aid on the basis that a proportion of the aid money is spent on products produced by the donor country.

Criticism 6 – (Dependency Theory) – World Bank aid has traditionally required countries to undertake ‘Structural Readjustment Policies’ (SAPs)

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are the largest and most influential of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and these have pursued a neoliberal development agenda since the 1980s. The damaging strings that the World Bank & IMF attach to aid, loans and debt relief often make it more difficult for poor countries to effectively tackle poverty. These strings often force poor countries to undertake Structural Adjustment Programmes – cut vital spending on health and education, or to privatise their public services, which provide opportunities for international companies to take these services over. Tanzania, Guyana and Bolivia have all been told that they must privatize their water supplies in order to get millions of pounds in aid from the world bank[1] [2]

Criticism 7 – (People Centred Development) – Top down aid is often irrelevant to the countries receiving it!

Much Official Development aid has focused on monstrous projects such as the building of dams and roads which have sapped local initiative harmed the environment and lead to social injustices[3].

Criticism 8 – (People Centred Development) –  Focusing on aid for developing countries suggests that Africans are helpless. Live Sid Yasmin Aibhai- Brown argues that concerts such as Live Aid perpetuate the idea of Africa as a helpless continent incapable of helping itself, whereas the opposite is actually true. [4]

[1] http://www.actionaid.org.uk/index.asp?page_id=1365 – extract about water privatization in Tanzania from Action Aid.

[2] See Chapter on Bolivia water privatisation, The Corporation DVD

[3]  See http://www.whirledbank.org/environment/dams.html for a critical look at the World Bank’s funding of dams in half a dozen developing countries.

[4] http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-G8/aid_2650.jsp – a critique of events such as Live Aid.

Posted on Leave a comment

Arguments for Official Development Aid

Early modernisation theorists believed that it was essential to inject aid into countries to establish infrastructure and change attitudes. From the 1950s to 70s aid programs seemed to have a positive effect on many developing countries as both economic and social development increased, however this progress seamed to stall from the late 1970s.

Contemporary supporters of aid believe that aid is not necessarily a bad thing, but aid needs to be targeted, its effects monitored and accountability measures need to be in place, so that aid money doesn’t go astray, like the $10 billion lent to Indonesia during General Suharto’s rule between 1965-1995.

Neo-modernisation thinker Jeffry Sachs (2005)

In the ‘End of Poverty’ (2005) Sachs notes that large scale aid can work when it is practical, targeted, science based and measurable. He believes in aid as ‘one big push’ to sort out specific problems. He points to the following evidence  to support his view that aid works:

  • Firstly, aid aimed at improving health has been particularly successful. Aid money has led to mass immunisation of children against diseases such as smallpox and measles, polio, diphtheria. Smallpox was practically wiped out with $100 million of very targeted aid aimed at vaccinating those most at risk. Today, Barder (2011) points out that every year foreign aid pays for 80% of immunisations and saves 3 million lives a year.
malaria-graphic-008
Malaria Statistics

The recent sharp decline in Malaria deaths is largely due to targeted immunisation, paid for by international aid, a cause championed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation 

  • Secondly – The Green Revolution – In the 1960s, Western Aid assisted in the green revolution in China, India and South East Asia which saw rice yields increase by 2-3 times, leading to surplus rice being produced for export. Such countries were then able to use the income generated by these cash crops to diversify and grow their economies, transforming into Newly Industrialised Countries (The Asian Tiger Economies). The video below outlines the case for the Green Revolution.

(NB – as a counter criticism you should check out ‘The Mythology of the Green Revolution, featuring Vandana Shiva – basically a ‘post-development perspective on the green revolution.)

  • Thirdly, Numerous countries, known as the International Development Association (IDA) graduates have gone on to ‘drive to maturity’ following large injections of aid money. Riddel (2014) argues that there is a substantial body of evidence that South Korea, Botswana and Indonesia have all benefited economically from Official Development Assistance.
indonesia-underdevelopment
Indonesia – seems to have benefited economically from a large amount of Official Development Aid over the years

 

Aid can also Support the Interests of Developed Countries (*)

According to Marren (2015), there is plenty of evidence that aid is shaped by the self-interest of the donor countries:

  1. Aid may be used as a ‘sweetener’ to gain access to resources and markets and foster better trade links. The USA has used aid to guarantee access to scarce resources such as oil, while the increased donor activity of China in recent years may be linked to its need for raw materials. This goes some way to explaining why more aid money goes to lower-middle income countries rather than low-income countries – put simply, donor countries stand to gain more from giving aid the slightly better off rather than the very poorest.
  1. Aid may be a way stimulating the donor economy. Some countries attach conditions to aid stipulating that a proportion of the funds must be spent on goods manufactured in the donor country. This is known as ‘tied aid’. The UK banned this kind of aid in 2001, although research conducted by The Guardian newspaper found that only 9 out of a total of 117 major DFID contracts (worth nearly £750 million) had gone to non-British companies.
  1. Aid may be a way of strengthening political links and securing strategic interests. Countries which are viewed by the Americans as allies in the ‘War against Terror’ are generously rewarded with aid. A recent study of U.S. Aid since the 2000s showed that the main destinations were Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. Similarly, UK aid is increasingly being spent on military objectives.

Statistics on the Benefits of UK Aid (*)

Wealth creation provided 68.9 million people, including 35.9 million women, with access to financial services to help them work their way out of poverty.

Poverty, vulnerability, nutrition and hunger reached 28.5 million children under five and pregnant women through the government’s nutrition-relevant programmes.

Education supported 11.0 million children, of whom 5.3 million were girls, in primary and lower secondary education.

Health ensured that 5.1 million births took place safely with the help of nurses, midwives or doctors. The UK has funded the distribution of 47 million insecticide-treated bed nets and is investing in vaccines and drugs, helping contribute to malaria deaths falling by 60% in the last 15 years.

Water, sanitation and hygiene supported 62.9 million people, of whom 22.2 million were women, to access clean water, better sanitation or improved hygiene conditions.

Humanitarian assistance reached over 13 million people with emergency food assistance, including 5.5 million women or girls.

Governance and security supported freer and fairer elections in 13 countries in which 162.1 million people voted.

Climate change supported 15 million people to cope with the effects of climate change.

Tax and transparency supported agreement on a new global standard for automatic exchange of tax information, making it easier for governments to tackle offshore tax evasion.

Scientific research helped the global elimination of rinderpest, a cattle disease which led to famine and poverty, and helped breed a new disease-resistant crop which has increased food security for an estimated 3 million people.

Sources

Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.

*A good example of this can be found in DFID’s 2015 document ‘UK Aid: Tackling Global Challenges in the National Interest’

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/478834/ODA_strategy_final_web_0905.pdf

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Different Types of Aid in International Development

Aid refers to any flow of resources from developed countries to the developing world. Aid can come in the form of money, technology, gifts or training, and can either be provided in the form of a grant which does not have to pay back or a loan with interest which does have to be paid back.

There are different strengths and limitations of aid depending on where it comes from – and you need to be able to distinguish between Official Development Aid from large scale institutions such as the World Bank and Governments, aid organised through Non-Governmental Organisations – or Charities such as Oxfam and Private Aid – from organisations set up by wealthy individuals – such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Types of Aid

There are three main types of aid you need to know about:

Firstly – Official Development Aid (ODA) is aid from public or official sources such as national governments or international agencies of development. Official Development Aid accounts for 80% aid.

official-development-assistance

There are two main types of ODA (which are not distinguished in the table above)

  • Bilateral Aid involves countries in the developed world giving money directly to governments, local communities or businesses in the developing world. In the UK this is knowns as ‘Official Development Assistance’ and in is delivered through the Department for International Development (DFID). 70% of ODA is bilateral.
  • Multilateral Aid involves the UK (and other countries) donating money to international agencies such as the World Bank and the European Commission. There are over 200 international agencies which provide aid to developing countries. 30% of ODA flows through such international agencies.

Secondly – Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Aid – NGOs are independent charities such as OXFAM which raise donations from the general public. There are thousands of NGOs ranging from the very large and well-known such as OXFAM, which focus on a range of development projects, to the very localised and specific, which may consist of just a few individuals focussing on one development issue in one area of one country. NGO aid makes up the other 20% of aid.

Thirdly – Private Aid – This is aid from international foundations which are set up by wealthy individuals or Corporations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This accounts for a relatively small proportion of aid flows.

Sources

Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.

 

Posted on 3 Comments

What is Happiness?

 Happy – lucky, fortunate; contented with one’s lot, glad or pleased[i]

Synonyms [of happy]: Pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction.[ii]

Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” (Aristotle) [iii]

The very purpose of life is to seek happiness.” (The Dalai Llama)[iv]

It Sounds crazy – especially coming from a Tory Government whose economic policies spell misery for millions of people. David Cameron wants to measure how happy we are.

Ronald Inglehart has been doing this since 1995 as part of the World Values Survey.

Ronald Inglehart’s research attempts to measure global happiness. Inglehart constructed a measurement of happiness based on mainly two questions, that should reflect happiness and life satisfaction:

1) “Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?”
2) “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”

The problem for David Cameron is that on this ranking, we only come 74th in the World for happiness- which seams odd given that we are 6th in the world rankings for GPD (Gross Domestic Product – a measurement of the size of our economy). I’m not sure if that’s the largest discrepency between wealth and happiness in the world, but it’s got to put us up there.

Of course, as Polly Toynbe points out, all this is old News to certain sociologists such as Wilkonson and Picket who wrote the Spirit Level. According to their findings,  the reason we are so rich and yet so miserable is because Britain is so incredibly unequal. Every model they have looked at shows that the most unequal societies are the least happy. Even the rich in unequal countries are less happy than the best off in more equal countries.

Given that the Tories are currently instigating policies to increase inequalities, people are likely to be getting more miserable. So it would appear that Cameron’s challenge with his inequality survey is one of wording  the survey differently to that of the World Values Survey, so that it returns different results. Any ideas? How would you design/ administer a survey that makes people seam happier…. Please take this little white pill, wait for 30 minutes, and then we’ll begin…?

 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Role of the World Trade Organisation in International Development

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the body through which governments and businesses (mainly TNCs) negotiate the rules of trade, and settle trade disputes once these rules have been established.

The concept of the WTO first began with the 1947 the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed by the Western powers to govern global trade and to reduce trade barriers between nations. In 1994, the WTO was set up to replace GATT, originally consisting of 126 members; it has since expanded to 164 member states currently.

wto

The WTO now has trade rules in place covering not only goods but also services such as telecommunications, banking and investment, transport, education, health and the environment.

The WTO is committed to the concept of free trade, believing that unlimited competition in the free market results in efficient production, innovation, cheap prices and the fastest possible rates of economic growth. They see government interference in markets as stifling businesses and being harmful to economic growth. WTO trade agreements and trade rules have thus tended to focus on reducing government intervention, such as the reduction of tariffs, subsidies and restrictions on imports.

However, critics argue that the WTO has hidden goals, and that it is really interested in helping rich countries and TNCs maintain their economic dominance. Chang (2010) for example has criticized the World Trade Organisation, arguing that its trade rules are unfair, and biased against developing countries. The WTO pressurizes poor countries to open up their economies immediately to western corporations and banks by abandoning tariffs (taxes) on western imports. However, the developed countries are still allowed to impose quotas on the imports of manufactured goods from poor countries, in order to protect their manufacturing industries.

Along the same lines as Chang above, McKay argues that WTO trade rules have rigged the terms of global trade in favour of the West and consequently the WTO is a rich man’s club dominated by the neo-liberal philosophy of the developed, industrialised nations.

A second major criticism of the WTO is that it is notoriously undemocratic – decision making at the WTO is dominated by a small group of Western members, with representatives of developing countries being outnumbered by the representativeness of wealthier countries and TNCS, even though the majority of the world’s population lives in those poorer countries.  A consequence of this is that the WTO tends to see free-trade as more important than protecting workers rights or the environment.

This brief article from Forbes suggests various reasons why poor countries fail to get decent trade deals out of the WTO:

–They are seriously understaffed–at the extreme, some states have no permanent delegation in Geneva, or just one or two people who must also cover other international agencies in the city.

–Their experience of trade policy issues and multilateral negotiations is limited.

–Individually, and even collectively, few account for a significant share of any element in world trade.

Philippe Legrain (2002), former special advisor to the Director-General of the WTO has acknowledged four main criticisms of the WTO:

  • It does the bidding of TNCs
  • It undermines workers’ rights and environmental protection by encouraging a ‘race to the bottom’ between governments of developing countries competing for jobs and foreign investment.
  • It harms the poor
  • It destroys democracy by imposing its approach on the world secretly and without accountability. He argues that the WTO’s free trade rules have prioritised the interests of TNCs over democratic and human rights.

Further sources of criticisms

Sources 

Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.