Development beyond elites: effectiveness and inclusiveness
Almost everyone agrees that ‘politics matters’ for development, but there is little consensus about what this actually means. One of the latest versions of this statement – which has gained some acceptance at development agencies – relies on the idea of ‘political settlements’, broadly understood as institutional patterns resulting from bargaining between elites.
At ESID we are pursuing a similar conceptual agenda by bringing power relations to the forefront, but we are also expanding it by investigating the role of ideas in defining interests. In particular, we aim to understand the specific ways in which state capacity and elite commitment arise from these relations and ultimately contribute to policies that lead to inclusive development.
It is the ‘how’ – and not so much the ‘what’ – of development that interests us.
Having a clear and coherent theory of how and why the politics of development plays out, is necessary before devising ways of changing how this works. Through this programme ESID is helping to advance theoretical approaches, in order to better understand the politics of development.
We aim to develop analytical frameworks for governance advisors, and to trial and develop new approaches to measuring state capacity and elite commitment. Our approach is theoretically rigorous, and enables us to identify conceptual innovations that can both deepen understanding and strengthen policy formulation.
The basic conceptual framework serves as the map in our analytical work. It is the lens through which we closely examine the politics of four crucial areas of inclusive development:
- Growth and natural resources
- Social provision
- Politics of identity and equity
- Transnational politics.