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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Rethinking Development Economics (PGSP11386)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to macro and microeconomic theories and debates in international development. The course is aimed at students with little previous exposure to or background in economics and sets out to offer a critical understanding of principals in neo-classical economics as they have been applied to the project of development in the Global South. Through case studies of specific policies and programmes students will be introduced to key elements of economic theory and to debates about economic models and paradigms, including their claims to truth, their ideological underpinnings, and their role in reproducing inequality and injustice.
Course description Outline Content:

Week 1 Putting the economics into development

In this introductory session we will lay out the course's main themes and questions by asking about the relationship between economics and development. This week explores how we might begin to critically engage with the production of economic knowledge in the context of development programmes and practices. This session will establish a framework for the course by introducing students to macro and micro-economic concepts, issues and debates. This session will also introduce different ways of thinking economically and distinguish between orthodox and heterodox economics in international development.

Week 2 The Economics of Development and the Development of Economics

In this session we will explore arguments and debates about the relationship of economics and development by charting the emergence and history of 'development economics' as a distinct discipline in the mid 20th century. We will explore the shifts from what classical economists described as political economy to economics. This session will introduce students to the 'Washington Consensus' and its implications for development policy and practice. We will explore the extent to which the 'post-Washington Consensus' and 'New Development Economics' remained committed to the same basic tenants of dominant market economics or represented a shift in thinking. Finally we will ask what does 'development studies' - as a set of interdisciplinary perspectives on development and social transformation - have to offer development economics?

Week 3 The Growth Fetish

This session is framed by a focus on 'growth'. What is meant by growth in development economics and why is the commitment to growth so important? Is it possible to think about development without economic growth? What do commitments to growth assume? What is meant by 'de-growth'? And what does it mean to think of growth as an 'endpoint'? In exploring these questions this week introduces some of the fundamental principals of orthodox macro-economic theory as they have shaped the management of public finances, health, education, and energy in the Global South.

Week 4 Freedom

This session explores the idea of freedom, tracing the legacy of Freidrich Von Hayek and classical liberalism in modern development economics. How have commitments to the idea of freedom shaped the discipline of development economics and processes of globalisation? How have these ideas been manifested in programmes of structural adjustment and economic liberalisation as planners and policy makers arguments about the positive effects of increased competition, the removal of barriers to trade and investment, the benefits of privatising public utilities, and the de-regulation of the economy.

Week 5 Industrial Futures

This session asks how we can understand and engage with rapid industrialisation? What is meant by a race to the bottom? How do people understand the social and environmental costs of rapid industrialisation? What do the economics of industrialisation mean for those who are displaced from their land by factories and those who join the global labour force? Drawing on the lecturer's long-term field based research on export-manufacturing this session explores the contribution of anthropology and sociology to an understanding of the cultural politics of rapid industrialisation.

Week 6 Getting the Measure of Poverty

Who are the poor? What are the indicators of poverty, vulnerability and inequality? These questions lie at the heart of much development planning and policy-making but the answers to them have been subject to considerable debate over the past 50 years. This session historicises different approaches to the measurement of poverty, detailing the emergence of key policy approaches to understanding poverty (livelihoods, capabilities) and asking why social and power relationships that create the structural conditions for the reproduction of poverty often remain ignored. The session will ask how and why economic measures are frequently elevated above non-economic or sociological understandings of poverty, and what kind of ideological positions might underpin different approaches.

Week 7 The Economic Lives of the Poor

How do poor people behave? How do we know what kinds of choices, motivations and decisions shape their daily lives? This session explores the ways in which development policy makers and planners come to know the poor, paying particular attention to the expanding field of 'behavioural economics'. It explores the use of field laboratories and randomised controlled trials as methodologies for knowing the lives of the poor and it focuses on specific case study examples, from the use of mid-school meals as incentives to increase primary school enrolment and the use of conditional cash transfers in immunisation drives.

Week 8 The Informal Economy

This session explores what is variously described as the 'informal', 'unregulated' or 'need' economy to examine economic activity that lies beyond the regulation, control or purview of the state. This session explores how apparently 'informal economies' are in fact deeply formalised, structured and regulated by social relationships and local politics. The lecture will ask how the 'informal economy' is used by international development organisations and whether it continues to be a useful term. The session will also explore how the informal economy is being incorporated into development practice through a case study that explores debates about the role of informal providers (street vendors pharmacy attendants, lay educators, unlicensed medical practitioners and community health workers) in future health care systems.

Week 9 Bankers to the Poor

This session will explore debates about the successes and failures of micro-finance initiatives. Critics of micro-finance initiatives, however, have pointed to the ways in which new forms of credit produce new forms of indebtedness and reproduce structural relationships of inequality.

Week 10 Poverty Means Business

Tackling 21st challenges of poverty, malnutrition, access to energy is increasingly of interest to small scale and large scale businesses. This session will explore how 'doing good' has become a vehicle for 'doing well' and explore how development outcomes and the Millennium Development Goals are being harnessed to a corporate bottom line. What new kinds of relationships are being created between corporations, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and the poor? How do these new economies of development remap poverty as an emerging market and reframe the poor as consumers?

Student Learning Experience:

By the end of the course students will have an advanced knowledge and understanding of key concepts in development economics and the tools to think critically about them. In particular, they will:

Have an understanding of key ideas in neo-classical economics and how the history of their application in development policy and programme.

Have an understanding of the history and debates surrounding these ideas and those of influential critics.

Understand the role of macro and micro economic theory in development and practice.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. show an advanced knowledge and understanding of key concepts in development economics and the tools to think critically about them.
  2. show an understanding of key ideas in neo-classical economics and how the history of their application in development policy and programme.
  3. show an understanding of the history and debates surrounding these ideas and those of influential critics
  4. understand the role of macro and micro economic theory in development and practice.
Reading List
Week One: Putting the economics into development

Key Readings
Wolfgang Sachs, (2010) Introduction to The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power
Ha Joon Chang (2004) Introduction in Rethinking Development Economics

Week Two: The Economics of Development and the Development of Economics

Key Reading
W. Arthur Lewes. 1954. Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour
John Williamson, 1993. Democracy and the Washington Consensus. World Development

Week Three: The Growth Fetish

Key Reading

Latouch, Serge. 2009. The Territory of De-Growth in Farewell to Growth
John Noye 2004 'Changing Perspectives in Development Economics' in Ha Joon Chang (ed) Rethinking Development Economics. London: Anthem

Week Four: Freedom

Key Readings
Hayek, Freidrich Von. 1944. The Road to Serfdom. Chapter 4.
Chang, Ha Joon. 2010. 'There is No Such Thing as a Free Market' in 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

Week Five: Industrial Futures

Key Readings
Caitrin Lynch, The Politics of White Women's Underwear in Sri Lanka's Open Economy
Hewamanne, Sandya. 2008. City of Whores. Nationalism, Development and Global Garment Workers in Sri Lanka.

Week Six: Getting the Measure of Poverty

Key Readings
Maia Green and David Hulme, 2005. From Correlates And Characteristics To Causes: Thinking About Poverty From A Chronic Poverty Perspective. World Development. Vol. 33, No. 6, pp. 867-879.
Extracts from the UNDP's Human Development Report 2013

Week Seven: No Class

Week Eight: The Economic Lives of the Poor

Key Readings
Banerjee, Abhijit V, and Esther Duflo. 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor." Journal of Economic Perspectives 21 (1): 141-167.
New Yorker, 2010, The Poverty Lab, (May 17th)

Week Nine: The Informal Economy

Key Readings
Hart, Keith. 1973. Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana in the Journal of Modern African Studies
Meagher, Kate. 1995. Crisis, Informalization and the Urban Informal Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa in Development and Change

Week Ten: Bankers to the Poor

Key Readings

Rankin, Katherine Neilson. 2001. "Governing Development: Neoliberalism, Microcredit, and Rational Economic Woman." Economy and Society 30 (1): 18-37.
Ananya Roy, Global Order: Circuits of Capital and Truth, in Poverty Capital

Week 11: Poverty Means Business

Key Readings
Prahalad, C. K., and S. L. Hart. "Raising the Bottom of the Pyramid: Strategies for Sustainable Growth" 1001: 48109.
Dolan, Catherine S., and Linda Scott. 2009. "Lipstick evangelism: Avon trading circles and gender empowerment in South Africa." Gender & Development 17 (2): 203-218.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jamie Cross
Course secretaryMiss Becky Guthrie
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