The Antagonistic relevance of development studies

Mohan, Giles and Wilson, Gordon (2005). The Antagonistic relevance of development studies. Progress in Development Studies, 5(4) pp. 261–278.



This paper discusses relevance in development studies. We argue that current debates around relevance assume a hegemonic view of development, which is bolstered by the high levels of research funding from key policy-making institutions. We feel relevance can be pluralized and radicalized, but that this requires us to be ideologically transparent and to examine other ways of undertaking and validating knowledge production. This involves frst, acknowledging the material and ethical connectedness, but not sameness of people; secondly, a relational tension between discipline and interdiscipline; thirdly, that problem-framing and influencing involves 'researchers' and 'users', whereby 'users' include students, practitioners, decision-makers and 'the poor'. Further, we argue that such dialogic approaches require alternative criteria for rigour. Positivistic criteria imply a distinctive form of rationality; but if rationality is also pluralized then alternative epistemologies and methodologies of working with multiple rationalities is necessary.

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