This book is about participatory development's potential for tyranny, showing how it can lead to the unjust and illegitimate exercise of power. It is the first book-length treatment to address the gulf between the almost universally fashionable rhetoric of participation, which promises empowerment and appropriate development on the one hand, and what actually happens when consultants and activists promote and practise participatory development, on the other.
The contributors, all social scientists and development specialists, come from various disciplines and a wide variety of hands on experience. Their aim is to provide a sharp contrast to the seductive claims of participation, and to warn its advocates of the pitfalls and limitations of participatory development. The book also challenges participatory practitioners and theorists to reassess their own role in promoting a set of practices which are at best naive about questions of power, and at worst serve systematically to reinforce, rather than overthrow, existing inequalities.
For the recipients of participatory development this book provides critical insights into the history, institutions, and day-to-day activities through which participation is 'done to' them. It provides them with a range of arguments which support the legitimate decision not to participate on others' terms.
This rigorous and provocative understanding of participatory development is one which donors, academics and practitioners will find hard to ignore.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 249 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 138 mm
'A timely critique of the participation discourse and expose of the seductive arts of official incorporation. Essential reading for all those studying and practising international development as well as social policy nearer home.'
Geoff Wood, University of Bath
'Unmasks the moral tyranny imposed through the language of participation which has come to dominate the discourse of 'devspeak'. In exploring participatory practices from several points of view - social psychology, sociology of management, Goffman's analysis of social performance, Foucauldian analysis of discourses and their power - it shows how radical and democratic language may be co-opted with the aim of bringing people's views and expectations into line with the plans devised, with their participation, by their betters. Makes a vital contribution to the sociology of development.'
Gavin Williams, University of Oxford