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Reconceptualising Development: The Turn to Civil Society?

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Critical Reflections on Development

Abstract

The renewal of interest in civil society in contemporary development policy and practice can be traced back to the 1980s and 1990s, at a time when there was growing disillusionment with the reliance on the state and the market as key organising institutions in society. As we moved through the 1990s, ‘development’ became an increasingly contested concept. At the same time, policy makers, researchers and practitioners began to consider how the institutions of civil society could offer approaches, methods and processes that were organised around participatory processes and were putatively better suited to effective, sustainable development than the development institutions established after the second world war (Bhatnagar and Williams 1992, Chambers 1983; Eade and Williams 1995). The last decade of the twentieth century witnessed a paradigm change for development, much of it based around the conceptual and theoretical armoury of civil society (Bennett and Roche 2002; Edwards 2004; Hinton and Groves 2004; Howell and Pieterse 2001; Kaldor 2003; Long 2001; Pieterse 2001). But how far have civil society discourses provided satisfactory responses to the challenges to development theory? What forms of civil society frameworks have been invoked? What have civil society approaches looked like in practice?

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© 2013 Sue Kenny

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Kenny, S. (2013). Reconceptualising Development: The Turn to Civil Society?. In: Kingsbury, D. (eds) Critical Reflections on Development. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230389052_10

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