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Education & Language | Constructing Development - Civil Society and Literacy in a Time of Globalization

Constructing Development

Civil Society and Literacy in a Time of Globalization

Nordtveit, Bjorn Harald

2009, XXI, 172 p.

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  • Proposes a new way of analyzing development projects and policies based on post-development and complexity theories and New Institutional Economics
  • Analyzes the connections between literacy, civil society, gender equity, and economic development using a World Bank-funded Women’s Literacy Project in Senegal as a case study
  • Gives insight to the local set-up and implementation of a World Bank project and to global-local relationships between donor and recipient
  • Analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of public-private partnerships, which are increasingly employed by donor agencies to implement social services
  • Shows how a development project is entangled in the global economy and demonstrates how it responds to local, national and donor requirements
  • Makes use of abundant quotes from project stakeholders to give local people a voice and to illustrate their encounter with a development project

Former World Bank education specialist Bjorn Nordtveit argues in this groundbreaking study that a development project or policy should not be understood and analyzed as a linear system. Instead, he believes we should view it as a complex and dialectical organism. Basing his theories on post-development and complexity theories as well as New Institutional Economics, Nordtveit lays out a novel method of analyzing development – both on the ground and in the think-tank.

Informed by detailed quotations from interviews with local people involved in a World Bank literacy project in Senegal, the author demonstrates how a project is entangled in the global economy, and how it constructs development through a discourse of gender equity, growth of the civil society, and promotion of the use of private provision of social services.

Nordtveit’s new analytical methodology claims it is necessary for all development initiatives to first investigate whether the donors’ vision of development coincides with national – and local – notions of development. Only then can the holistic and complex interrelations between the project and all other development desires and services in the community be studied. Finally, the project’s cost effectiveness must be considered. The author also examines the strengths and weaknesses of ‘public-private partnerships’, which are being used ever more frequently by donor agencies to implement social services.

Constructing Development is a tour de force. Going back and forth between the global and the local, it examines a World Bank women's literacy project in Senegal through a critical and integrated discussion of education and development, globalization, gender, civil society, and privatization. Nordtveit offers an insightful and innovative critique of development theory and practice, drawing on new authors and fields, such as Complexity Theory. His book is a must read across a number of fields including comparative and international education, adult education, gender studies, and economic development.

Steven J. Klees, Former President, Comparative and International Education Society Harold R.W. Benjamin Professor of International and Comparative Education University of Maryland

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Economic Development - Evaluation - economics - education - gender - literacy - literacy education - morality - post-development - public-private partnerships - university

Related subjects » Development Economics - Education & Language - Political Science

Table of contents 

Acronyms Tables and illustrations Prelude Chapter 1: A sense of development 1.1. Development discourses 1.2. The World Bank ideology and globalization 1.3. West Africa and Senegal 1.4. A World Bank school system? 1.5. A case study: the Women’s Literacy Project Chapter 2: Conservative economic policies 2.1. A conservative discourse 2.2. Creation of a policy 2.3. Creation of a project 2.4. Why the World Bank was involved Chapter 3: Civil society, women, illiteracy 3.1. Old and new discourses on civil society 3.2. World Bank creation of civil society 3.3. Gender discourses 3.4. Constructing gender Chapter 4: A literate and enabling environment 4.1. Literacy education 4.2. Production of literacy 4.3. Production of a literate environment in local languages 4.4. Poor education for poor women Chapter 5: The partnership approach 1.1. A provider’s story 5.2. Selection 5.3 Monitoring and evaluation 5.4. Moral hazard Chapter 6: Constructing cost-effectiveness in development 6.1. A disastrous combination? 6.2. Whose ineffectiveness? Chapter 7: The World Bank, civil society and the market 7.1. A product of its time 7.2. Levels of change 7.3. Dialectical and complex relationships 7.4. What for? – where to? – and what then? Bibliography Index

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