Development: “enlarging people’s choices, capability and freedoms, so that they can live a long and healthy life, have access to knowledge, a decent standard of living, and participate in the life of their community.”(Sen in Barder, 2012:3)

I think this quote highlights the importance and complexity of development. Erroneously, I thought it was just the synonymous of economic growth and with it any country would evolve. However, I learned that this concept should be judge not only on the country’s income (GDP) but also on what Sen said (HDI). In fact, in my opinion, economists like Rostow, are excessively systematic and they focus just on the economic side without considering other aspects. Financial Institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF proposed a series of policy reforms (Washington Consensus) in order to help ‘fragile’ countries to develop. Nevertheless, these did not work as expected because they underestimated development’s complexity. Money is important but if a country does not know how to make a good use of it, issues such as poverty will still be there.

Therefore, development embraces also politics, culture and anthropology. It is linked with colonization legacies, governance, neoliberalism etc. These factors influenced each countries in a different way: some of them benefited from these and others not.

In conclusion, due to its multidimensional nature it is difficult to know which is the best way to develop a country and if it is even possible. The only thing that I know for sure is that development is uneven and perhaps we need to destroy and rebuild countries’ political and institutional structure to overcome development’s issue and complexity.

Neo-Liberalism (has it been successful for development?)

My group presentation (week 10) was about ‘Neo-liberalism’ and its link with development. The presentation was divided into four parts.

In part one, we talked about development and how to measure it; in part two we attempted to define Neo-liberalism and how to accomplish it.  The case studies and the positive and negative consequences of Neo-liberalism were dealt with in parts three and four respectively.

What I liked about our presentation was that we spoke about development in general and then we focused on the theory that shaped it – neoliberalism.

As with the other presentations, I think that our case studies, Australia and Egypt were a bit poor and that we should have related them more with the topic and maybe analysed a third country. In addition, I think we were too systematic and there was not that much of interaction with the audience.

The major negative aspect was our lack of confidence and nervousness, which could be attributed to lack of coordination among team members.

We did used reliable resources such as books and journals and a few quotes in order to help others to understand better the concept.

On the whole, all the presentations should be improved on and presenters should work on their presentation skills.

The British colonization

The third group’s approach (week 9) was not much different from the first.  Focus was on British colonization and whether it has been successful for development. It was a two parts presentation:

  • history of the British colonization
  • case studies

The historical background was detailed and well presented, but the case studies were not related to the concept enough. They spoke about the impact of British power in India, Africa and Canada. I really liked the study of the latter because they were able to give us a broader overview of the country in a simple and effective way.

I did not like the way Africa’s case study was presented. They spoke about Africa as a continent, forgetting that places were affected in different ways. They should have given a brief background of Africa and then focused on one or two places. Again, I did not see much links between the case studies and the concept. It seemed that they were three separate presentations rather than one. I found that there was a lack of figures and images and therefore, it seemed slightly boring.

Lastly, there was no conclusion, which I think it is an important part because it summarize everything.

In order to have a complete view of Colonialism, I suggest that the two presentations be combined and these few changes made.

How has colonialism impacted the modern world?

From week 7 to week 10, I attended all seminars regularly in order to listen to my colleagues’ presentations.

The first group (week 7), talked about the concept of Colonialism: the positive and negative impact of it in three different places: South Africa, Latin America and Middle East. The presentation was structured in three parts: in part one, they gave the definition of Colonialism, its linked with development and how it differs from imperialism.

In part two, they discussed the case studies and in part three, they analysed the advantages and disadvantages of colonialism.

I appreciated the fact that they took us around the world examining and comparing the different legacies European countries left in the countries they colonised.

Although a lot of background information of these countries was given, they did not lay much emphasis on the link between the case studies and the definition of the concept. Focus was on the cases rather than the theory. Thus, there was an imbalance between the parts. There was also a lack of interaction with the audience and no details about the resources used. Therefore, I cannot tell whether these were reliable or not.

Nonetheless, being the first group to present, I think they did well but could have improved on it by organising themselves a bit more and give more details related to the concept.

POLITICAL BUBBLE

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are three dimensions of power: the direct conflict, the issue control and the thought control.

The first face of power is the most obvious and visible.

An example of this, in my opinion, is the battles for conquest of new lands and colonial territories, in which European powers such as England, Spain, France and Germany took complete political control, showing their power and hegemony, by military force and imposed European laws. For instance, the colonial wars during the “Scramble of Africa” between Ghana or Golden Cost and Britain.

Another example, which is extreme, is terrorism. The main aims of it are to spread fear among people in order to achieve a specific political goal and to obtain a national, local or worldwide recognition of power. For example the attack on America 11th September 2001.

I think that the second and the third faces are linked to each other because without issue control there is no thought control. In fact, even though we think that no one is controlling our minds there is definitely someone manipulating information. For example, the social psychologist Christopher Bryan conducted a survey on how a paraphrased sentence can alter people’s opinion. The survey was based on how to increase voter turnout by just changing the word ‘vote’ to ‘voter’. He administered questionnaires to two groups. In the first group, he asked whether it was important to be a voter, while in the other whether it was important to vote. The survey revealed an important gap between those who responded positively and who did not. Those referred to as ‘voters’ they were more likely to vote because they considered themselves to be voters rather than perform a task.

Moreover, Foucault’s description of power (1974) can be related to the third face of this manifestation discussed PANOPTIOCONby Lukes. Bentham’s Panopticon is an architectural prison example that symbolises Foucault’s theory. According to Bentham, power needs to be ‘visible’ and ‘unverifiable’. Visible because of the institutional figure e.g. guards, while unverifiable because prisoners never know when there are being watched and they self-police themselves. Therefore, it is all about persuading others.

In my view, colonialism is also linked with the third face of power because of the legacies that European countries left in the way people think and act nowadays.

In conclusion, I can say that power is everywhere and we cannot escape from it.

REFERENCES:

BRIAN C. 06/11/2014     http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/july/increasing-voter-turnout-071911.html

FOUCAULT M. (1974) ‘The Birth of the Prison’ Discipline & Punish pp.195-228

THREE DIMENSIONS OF POWER

Power is a controversial and polysemous word that affects and governs our everyday lives within the society in several ways, some of which we are not even aware of.

Its meaning has been discussed and developed from different spheres: philosophy, politics and sociology. It therefore has multiple meanings and faces according to different walks of life. Generally though, it is often referred as the ability to influence and control people or things.

Dahl, gives a one-dimensional definition of power. According to him, “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do” (Dahl, 1957, in Bell, Edwards and Harrison Wagner 1966 p.80).

This is a concrete vision but does not give a broader explanation of the whole picture of this manifestation. Indeed, the pluralist vision, judged as “sterile” (Taylor 1984:171) and restrictive, is the study of the observable behaviour, the decision-making. Dahl thinks that in order to exercise power there has to be a ‘conflict of interest’.

Alternatively, according to critics, such as Bachrach and Baratz, writers of ‘Two faces of Power’, power is not only this, it is exercised “by confining the scope of decision-making to relatively ‘safe’ issues” (p. 6). This could happen by limiting “decision-making to relatively non-controversial matters, by influencing community values and political procedures and rituals.” (p. 949)

Thus, they embrace agenda setting and controlling, as a form of power, that is, manipulation that does not necessarily involve evident conflict.

However, in ‘Power: a radical view’, Lukes highlights and criticises the second face, the nondecision-making. He notes that there is need to focus on aspects that are least accessible to observation and adds a third dimension: thought control. The latter describes how power can manipulate individuals to do something they might not actually want to do by changing what they want and desire.

“Is it not the supreme and the most insidious exercise of power to prevent people, to whatever degree, from having grievances by shaping their perceptions, cognitions and preferences in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things, either because they can see or imagine no alternative to it, or because they see it as natural and unchangeable, or because they value it as divinely ordained and beneficial?” (Lukes, 1974, p.28).

In other words, an individual can induce another to believe and choose to act in a certain way and such situation reinforces the bias of the system.

Therefore, the third dimension is ideological in nature and it can create ‘false consciousness’ (Marx) or alienation.

REFERENCES:

BACHRACH, P. and BARATZ, M.S. (1962) cited in ‘Power: a radical view’. LUKES S. (2005).  Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. (p.22)

BACHRACH, P. and BARATZ, M.S. (1962) ‘The two Faces of Power’, American Political Science Review, vol. 56 issue 4, p. 949

DAHL R.A. (1957), cited in ‘Power: a radical view’. LUKES S. (2005).  Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. (p. 16)

LUKES S. (2005) ‘Power: a radical view’. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. (p.28)

TAYLOR, C. (1984:171), cited in ‘Power: a radical view’. LUKES S. (2005).  Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. (p.60)

LONDON, ONE CITY WITH THOUSANDS OF FACES: “One of the world’s leading centers for global business, it is however a capital with the vast disparity of wealth” (Hill, 2003, p.5)

Three years ago, I moved to London to continue my education and widen my knowledge. I chose this city because of its positive attitude towards diversity, which distinguishes it from other places.

It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and I have had the opportunity to discover new cultures, religions and foods, just by crossing the street. London, known as “the world in one city” (Guardian 21.01.05), is one of the most important financial centres on this planet, and its influence is tangible worldwide.

In the field trip, I had the chance to see London with a different lens and to analyse how it has geographically remained the same, yet managed to change, and still is one of the world’s focal points.
A major example of this is the Bank of England, which has supported financial development, colonisation, trade and industrialisation since 1694.

10687323_753580231345985_5717673450136045000_o 10515312_753578988012776_6140527998982123108_o 20141029_110937 20141029_111036Even though it is a ‘super-city’, it has its own weaknesses: the inequality between the ‘super-rich’ elite and the poor. Therefore London “exhibits the paradox of great wealth and considerable poverty in close juxtaposition” (Hamnett, 2003, p.19). I think it highlights the inevitable disparity that define development in general. GDP versus HDI.

The trip was a great experience: interesting and entertaining. In my spare time, I will definitely visit other places with the pair of glasses this trip has given me.

GROUP PRESENTATION: ‘Neo-liberalism is not an avenue for development’

When I was reading on how to make a good group presentation, I came across a Henry Ford’s quotes: “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

In my opinion, this phrase reflects how a group should work and how each member should contribute towards its overall achievements. Members of a team should work together for a specific goal and try to deliver the work in the best way possible.

Unfortunately, this is not happening in my group. There are two major flaws: communication and commitment to the assignment. I had to email my tutor in order to talk to the rest of the team.

At the moment, I only have a rough idea on what we are doing and who is doing what. Our topic is Neo-liberalism and how it is linked with development. We divided the group into three couples. The first couple is focusing on development in general, the second, on the meaning of ‘neoliberalism’, adding a few examples of countries that embraced it and countries that did not; the third couple is concentrating on the case study:  Australia and Egypt.
Despite our current disorganization issues, I am positive and I hope that our presentation will be a success.

“If we want to turn Africa into a new Europe, and America into a new Europe, then let us leave the destiny of our countries to the Europeans. They will know how to do it better than the most gifted among us.” (Fanon, 1961, pp.253-5)

Even though the concept of development is a contemporary issue, in order to know why some countries are richer than others, we have to take into consideration the colonialism period. European powers, such as Britain, France and Germany, took political, economic and social control over people and territories, as Africa, Middle East and Asia.

A great amount of power hunger, thirst for wealth and the need for growth in the uprising industries, were the basis of European countries’ need for raw materials like coal, cotton and minerals.

Africa, for example, colonised and contended by various European powers, in the so-called “Scramble of Africa”, was exploited for the low-cost of aforementioned materials, labour and markets. The continent also suffered social, cultural and governmental influences, which allowed corruption and political instability to settle undisturbed. A major evidence of such behaviour was the creation of fictitious divisions and frontiers, also known as the “divide and rule” method. Uganda and Zimbabwe e.g. were extremely affected by such practice that led to ethnical conflicts, the impoverishment of the population and self-destruction.

map-of-Africas-resources1-2Therefore, the focal point of the matter is: Would Africa be the continent it is today, if it had not been maltreated by history?

What is development and how it is measured?

The concept of development is one of the most complicated and problematic topics of the world. This term has been at the centre of many debates since the 19th century especially after the Second World War. It does not have a unique and unequivocal meaning, it includes a variety of aspects and topics.

Development embraces various spheres, from the economic one to the political, anthropological and cultural ones. Thus, it is an improvement, “something” that is evolving, changing progressively in a positive way; it is synonymous of modernisation, culture development, industrialisation and economic growth. In order to measure the development of a country, analysts and economists were using the GDP tool, which calculates the wealth of the country exclusively from an economic point of view. However, it is not an indicator that shows the actual improvement of the territory. GDP by itself is a problematic tool because it does not demonstrate how people earn that amount of money.Nevertheless, the UN accepted an ulterior measurement method: HDI that measures a country’s overall achievement in its social and economic field such as literacy, standard of living, child mortality, gender equality, happiness etc.

Despite the presence of these methods of measurement, defining a specific concept of development it is still a challenge due to the fact that each country maintains its own particular perspective and priorities.development_3