Once Political Development Now Development Politics

To build on new concepts and make deep analysis on them, understanding what they really are and how they are formed is essential. To understand development politics, which is a fairly new concept referring to the developing countries and their political outcomes, we must go back to the political development.

The modern usage of the term ‘political development’ can be traced back to the 1950s after the most of the colonized countries regained their independence. The term was highly correlated with modernization but it was also related with rationalization, nationalism, democratization, and mobilization according to Hungtington (1965) . As Pye (1965) argued at ‘The Concept of Political Development’, political development could be observed in three major areas: the mass population, government performance, and organization of the polity. Although the modern usage of the term political development is about a half century old, it is still a widely-used term among the social scientists of the 21st century. Francis Fukayama is one of them. In his book Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalisation of Democracy (2014), he argued that political development was crucial for the developing countries not to experience political decay. It was also noted that the developed world  is faced with the danger of ‘re-patrimonialization’. He supported the idea that the balance of the state, the rule of law, and the mechanisms of accountability are what prevent states from the political decay.

As was mentioned in the beginning of this post, development politics is a fairly new term and it was most often used with references to developing countries. After the return of the state and politics in development lexicon towards the new millennium, political development was transformed into development politics. The transformation from one concept to another brought tendencies that has been long existed along with brand-new approaches to development. Similar to the political development concept, development politics also coincided with the modernization theory. In this regard, Western or Anglo-Saxon ways of doing development was on the agenda. This was especially observed in ‘the good governance’ concept of international organizations such as World Bank, IMF, and the UN. The normative commitment to the Western-liberal democracy tradition and strengthening institutions according to this tradition in the developing states was a result of ‘good governance’ (Fritz and Menocal,2006), a neo-modernization approach.

The reappearance of the Western-way once again showed that one-size (unfortunately or fortunately) did not fit all and hence a middle-way under the state legitimacy was put on the agenda of development politics. In this regard, ‘’going with the grain’’ (Kessall, 2008; Booth,2011), ‘’good enough governance’’ (Grindle, 2004) were new alternatives. The middle-way was not seen only in the big picture of the development agenda but also in the aid policies. The ‘arm’s length aid’ is an example to this. According to this approach, rather than direct Western expertise and knowledge transfer to the developing countries in the limits of aid, a change process can be facilitated with particular brokering solutions to problems with the help of external organizations. The fallacies of the developmental aid programs which did not include local agencies was also stressed by Carothers and Gramnut (2013). The solution proposed for the problem was the necessity working politically with the local agencies.

Once Political development now development politics…

Words are subject to change when time differs. Old terms can transform to new ones with the exact same meanings. The transformation from political developmental to development politics fitted into this classification to a degree. Implicitly, the efficiency of the Western-way of doing development was put to the agenda of development politics while local elements were also respected and absorbed to the concept, which makes development politics different than political development.

Whether ‘the middle-way’ will change the ongoing problems in the developing word is yet to wait and see.

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