1.2: Understanding Development and Social Change

Unit 1, Chapter 2.

Understanding Development and Social Change

In this chapter:
A Cautionary Note | Inclusive Approaches to Development


New York Times - The Charitable-Industrial Complex (article)
On "conscience laundering" and the distance of development practitioners & philanthropists from the areas that they impact. "This just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. "

William Easterly - The White Man's Burden (book)
On lack of accountability and local knowledge turning good intentions into dangerous social forces. The West's utopian plans fail because "like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone... True victories against poverty, he demonstrates, are most often achieved through indigenous, ground-level planning."

Paulo Freire - Pedagogy of the Oppressed (book)
A seminal piece in the field of education that pushes above all for cultural relevance and critical consciousness. Very salient points on the importance of the oppressed being able to catalyze and own their liberation - and the inherent difficulty of those in power, however well-meaning, to truly allow this.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. (film)
Documentary on the corporate "pinkwashing" and the power of feel-good media to depoliticize structural issues and disempower people who are fighting for truly systematic change.

Rusty Radiator Productions (videos & website)
From "Africa for Norwat" to "the Save Africa kid actor", this studio produces satirical takes on developing-world stereotypes in television and film.  The website also spotlights best and worst practices in development messaging.

TED - Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! (video)
When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit.


Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo - Poor Economics (book)
A showcase of behavioral research-driven interventions that build from the realities of the populations served. "creating a world without poverty begins with understanding the daily decisions facing the poor."

David Ellerman - Helping People Help Themselves (book)
"Beginning with the assertion that development assistance agencies are inherently structured to provide help that is ultimately unhelpful by overriding or undercutting the capacity of people to help themselves... Ellerman presents various methods for shifting initiative that are indirect, enabling and autonomy-respecting."

Amartya Sen - Development as Freedom (book)
Development must be judged by its impact on people, not only by changes in their income but more generally in terms of their choices, capabilities and freedoms; and we should be concerned about the distribution of these improvements, not just the average for a society.

TED - Jacqueline Novogratz: A third way to think about aid (video)
The debate over foreign aid often pits those who mistrust "charity" against those who mistrust reliance on the markets. Jacqueline Novogratz proposes a middle way she calls patient capital, with promising examples of entrepreneurial innovation driving social change. 

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