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IDSA01H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Capability Approach, Dependency Theory, Signify

International Development Studies
Course Code
Leslie Chan
Study Guide

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Lecture Objectives-
1. understanding the scope of “Development Studies”
2. Development is pluralistic and a contested notion (not everyone always agrees or
3. Understanding the power of “framing” and the use of language and other devices in
shaping our view of the world (what wants to be present…influenced by bias) - How you
frame an issue will affect the way it is interpreted and “labelled”, this places assumptions
and characteristics on a person or people or nation
4. Uncovering the assumptions of the “conventional wisdoms” in development
5. Prefer the term Global South signify solidarity after colonization. (Global North refers to
richer, developed nations, often those that have participated in colonization)
A Potential theories to examine in following weeks: Dependency theory?
What is ‘development studies”?
-using multidisciplinary lenses to understand the common challenges of humanities
-drawing ideas, conceptual frameworks, and methodologies from history, economics,
anthropology, health, political sciences, environmental science, geography, education and more
-at uni’s there’s different disciplines – but they all have their different methodologies,
frameworks and what have you have their own ways of understanding the world
-ex. in anthro have someone interested in kinship cultures, polygamy, etc…
-in IDS program faculties come from different disciplines sociologists, anthros, health,
environmental sciences, etc…
-even though we come from different disciplines we are interested in the same kind of common
interest in certain problems (ex. why do health inequalities exist? Why? Why are some people
healthier than others? Or knowledge inequality (professor’s interest))
-we can bring our disciplines together to talk about and feed off of each other about problems
Term is not objectively defined
Using multiple disciplinary lenses to understand the common challenges of humanities
Drawing ideas, conceptual framework, and methodologies from history, economics,
anthropology, health, poli sci, env sci, geo, education, and more
Flow Chart of where we are going this Semester
-Issues (Climate change, education, gender, health, inequality, poverty), to theories and
approaches (framing and labels, colonialism, theories, capability approach, etc..) and key factors
(citizens, religious groups, corporations, multilateral organizations, etc…)

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Dev studies emphasizes a nuanced and critical approach that challenges students to qsn
conventional wisdoms, particularly the established verities of the development enterprise
-we can do better
-don’t be critical for the sake of being critical, do better for the sake of doing better
-don’t want to tear up the whole system of development
-let’s think differently… there’s other ways we could make a different system work better
-don’t just accept what’s talk to you… qsn it!
Critical development studies
Understanding who has power and who doesnt as a window to understanding development
process Critical Development Studies (Who is influencing our understanding of issues and
whose opinions are being ignored?)
-understanding who has power and who doesn’t as a window to understanding development
-why is power so unevenly distributed?
-development is about contestation of power
-hence understanding politics, history and colonialism are particularly important
-we in theory have the power to select or elect the ppl to represent us
-those ppl will represent our voices
-that’s a form of citizen power in democratic society we are lucky to have
-in many places of the world we lack this power…
-why are the opportunities so unevenly distributed?
-Understanding history is a key to this… we will see how history protects, creates, and continues
to act upon us today… even colonialism as well… it still exists in many different forms…
Tensions in Development Studies
Cross-discipline or lack of discipline?
Development as Science/Development as unfolding history?
-Quantitative, evidence based, empirical
-Qualitative, case studies, comparison
- cross-discipline or lack of discipline?
-people can say how having various disciplines is a type of power?
-lack of discipline may not have you thinking that your discipline has that much power
-but prof thinks that this isn’t the case… it allows us to create new ways of thinking which is not
-there’s an advantage to both
-second point
-can see themselves as forms of science quantitative
-or like prof, sees himself as social studies qualitative case studies and such
-there’s a tension in the discipline
Micro versus Macro-level emphasis
Local, National or Global focus
Small development versus Big Development

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Scale and Sustainability
As a field of study and as a Field of Action
-theory and practice
Public/Private Partnership
As a subject: it is neo-colonial?
As practice: it is top down and technocratic?
“Developmentalism” has created more problems than it has solved
Preoccupation with “measurements”
Conventional Wisdom
The Ideology of Development (W.Easterly)
Developmentalism: the idea that there is a single set of market-based ideas that could solve the
world’s problems. And technical “experts” can lead the way.
-micro vs macro-level emphasis
-we want to understand a particular community well, - great models and hypotheses
-look at local cases, get some knowledge, then make generalizations
-go top down approach, or bottom up approach
-bottom up economic activities in a village, best way of generating income for this local
village go to village see what ppl do best already, how can they be further enhanced? What
barriers are affecting them understand those factors then see if we can lower those barriers
-aka bottom up, but lot’s of people are very impatient with this kind… going from village
to village
-OR go top down… create financial model, ppl borrow money, create business,
successful one will survive, unsuccessful one’s will drop – this is top down… see a lot of this
example at the world bank
-local, national or global focus
-it’s unavoidable we also have to work on a global level
-in order for gov’t of south Africa to make a change they had to go globally to see
if they could have an effect on the local level
-small d versus big development
-big “D” development
-those huge developments like big dam developments, big sexy project(roads,
ports, education)
-Very general
-Projects can be implemented in completely different regions. Does not focus on
culture, language, history (or the opinions of people in general)
-small d development
-Started by local individuals who truly recognize issues in the society. (they may
have first hand experience)
-there’s a tension – it’s obvious who does the big d people and who does the little d projects
-big d suits, 5 star hotel, parachute into community, get hired to write report, go back to 5 star
hotel, and drink their life away… their enterprise is quite big… get mega fundings
-spend thousands of dollars
-small d don’t get a lot of funding, struggle to pay managers… projects tend to fall apart
-scale and sustainability
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