Reconsidering the aid relationship: International relations and social development

Brown, William (2009). Reconsidering the aid relationship: International relations and social development. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 98(402) pp. 285–299.



Recent rhetoric surrounding the contemporary aid relationship between donors and African states is couched in terms of a high level consensus between western and African political leaderships, a central pillar of which is adherence to liberal principles of governance and economic management. The paper argues that an analysis of the nature of this consensus and its prospects requires that we need to understand it as (i) encompassing specifically international-geopolitical dimensions (including state interests, bargaining and power); and (ii) social-developmental purposes and content. The paper uses Rosenberg's considerations on 'international sociology' and uneven and combined development to provide a framework for analysing the aid relationship. In doing this, the paper speaks to two related theoretical issues: conceptualisations of the relationship between the 'social developmental' and the 'geopolitical/international' within International Relations (IR); and the contemporary relevance or otherwise of the discipline of IR to analyses of Africa's place in the international system.

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