Dr. Carolina Matos
Lecturer in Media and Communications
Department of Sociology
City University London
WK 7 – SGM223 – Communication, CULTURE
and Development – “Communication,
Development and Economic Perspectives”
•Bebbington, A. et al (2007) “Critical Challenges” in Can NGOs make a difference?:
the challenge of development alternatives, Zed Books, 3-55, part 1
•Desai, Vandana and Potter, Robert (2001) (eds.) “Agents of Development” in The
Companion to Development Studies, London: Routledge, especially 10.7, 10.8 and
•Nederveen Pieterse, J. (2010) “Equity and growth revisited: From human
development to social development” in Development Theory, London: Sage, p. 125-
Moemeka, A. A. (2000) Development communication in action: Building
understanding and creating participation, Oxford: U. P. of America.
Mowlana, H. (1988). Communication technology and development, UNESCO.
Slater, Don (2008) “Glimpsing God in the Internet” in D. Held and H. Moore
(eds.) Cultural Politics in a Global Age, Oneworld Publication pp. 89-97
Political and economic aspects of development
Stages of development and the history of aid
Development as equity and growth (Nederveen Pieterse, year)
Social and human development
The role of NGOs: in between the state and the market
NGOs: challenges and future prospects
NGOs and alternative development
Readings for week 8
Agents of development (in Desai et al, 2002)
Development activity was for a long time the monopoly of the state.
From the late 20th
century onwards, the role of the state was weakened,
with the entry of other agents of development, such as the World Bank,
the IMF and NGOs.
“Development has to be seen in the economic context of global
capitalism, but also in the political context.”
Growth of NGOs is likely as the state declines and global economic
Controversies regarding the intentions of NGOs (political and
Role of aid - is viewed as a means of promoting ‘good governance’
and ‘sound’ economic practices, which has lead many to be very
critical of aid.
“Good governance” and the role of NGOS (in Desai et al,
“Good governance” defined as ‘sound’ management of a country’s
economic and social resources
“What is ‘sound’ for the World Bank and others holding the view that
‘democratization’ stimulates development is a range of management
techniques that are believed to work well within a standardized liberal
NGOs are generally viewed as market-based actors and central
components of civil society. NGOS usually fill gaps left by the state,
and can be seen as part of a structural adjustment or donor-promoted
Different types of NGOs: campaigning, charitable or service-
Many are public interest research or campaigning organizations (i.e.
Greenpeace), others are service-providing NGOs concerned with
Foreign aid and official development assistance (in
Desai et al, 2002)
Aid takes the form of transfer of finance, commodities and other goods,
technical co-operation and debt relief. There are also differences between
development aid and humanitarian or disaster relief aid.
Who are the biggest donors?:
While the US before 1989 and Japan in most years since have been the largest
donors, the European Union member states together with the EU’s own
development co-operation budget now account for 55% of all official
development assistance (ODA).
Around 30% of development assistance is managed by the multilateral donors
including the World Bank Group’s International Development Association,
which makes interest-free loans to the least developed countries, and various
United Nations agencies.
UK’s assistance is expected to rise to 11.3 billion, hitting the 0.7% target of
the GNI (in The Guardian, 20/03/13)
Stages of development and aid (in Desai et al, 2002)
“NGOs like CARE, Medecins Sans Frontiers and Oxfam provide up to
US$ 6 billion annually in private grants.
Nature of aid and its development through time: US’s Marshall
Plan (1948-51) to economic reconstruction in western Europe set a
successful precedent of promoting development. Aid to other countries
since has never matched. Donors have had multiple goals, including
maintain close historical ties (i.e. Britain with the Commonwealth).
Until the 1970’s: In the early decades development assistance was
underpinned by an economic logic. By the 1970’s, dependency thinkers
began to criticise forms of aid (i.e. philanthropy), seeing this as an
instrument of domination that mainly privileged elites in the South
1980’s: development assistance began to be challenged with the rise of
neo-liberalism. Aid was seen as contributing to excessive government,
Aid in the 1980/90’s and the “Washington consensus”
(in Desai et al, 2002)
“The 1980’s saw a dramatic expansion of conditional aid lending – quick-
disbursing loans in the form of programme lending to help meet balance of
payments and public-sector financing requirements, linked to recommendations
for economic policy and institutional reform.
“Washington consensus” – i.e. structural adjustment loans for structural
1990’s: Aid during the period has been mainly focused on assisting progress
towards liberal democracy, ‘good governance’ and respect for human rights, in
developing as well as post-communist states.
Modest sums of under US$ 5 billion annually are being spent on ‘political
development’, especially the US government’s Agency for International
UN Electoral Assistance Division and Soros Foundation, with activities
including support to the electoral process, ‘reconciliation elections’ in post-
conflict situations and improvement of government institutions.
“Aid fatigue” and beyond
Aid in an age of globalization: The whole understanding around aid
for development has changed significantly in the last 50 years, with the
1990’s seeing a crisis in aid and minimal popular support in countries
like the US. The aid’s horizon nonetheless has been expanded
New security threats in a post-Cold war context:
International migration and global environment threats
Organized crime and drugs trafficking
Challenge of gender mainstreaming (public policy concept of assessing
the implications for men and women of planned policy action)
Poverty reduction has emerged as the new priority.
Emphasis now is on achieving results, especially in social
development, and less on maximizing aid funds. Realistic recognition
of the limitations of aid.
Millennium Development Goals and Beyond 2015
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve material health
6. Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Global partnerships for development
Equity and growth (in Nederveen Pieterse, 2010)
Argument: the importance of the emphasis on equity and growth in
the development of countries
Underlines that redistribution with growth was important in the
1970’s, was undermined during the “neo-liberal” era of the 1980’s
and is being revisited now
Cites the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen
Nonetheless, in the World Summit framework followed by the
Millennium Development Goals, the “dominant tendency has been to
relegate questions of social development to poverty alleviation.”
Post-development perspectives: Some, from a more ecological as
well as alternative development view, reject growth.
What matters is “development that is equitable, sustainable and
participatory”, with sometimes a rejection of growth per se.
Social development (in Nederveen Pieterse, 2010)
Quality of growth is now viewed as important. Question is: How can
social development be good for economic growth?
I.e. Brazil is an example, of economic growth that has yet to show
wider reduction of inequality and quality of life standards
Author argues that the market should not be demonised, and a more
realistic approach is to search for a common ground between the
market and social development
However, there are problems with the social welfare approach:
I.e. The “Kerala model’’ included advanced social policies and high
levels of education, health and female emancipation.
Other countries have included Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Jamaica.
Conclusion: in the absence of economic growth, it is difficult to
sustain welfare gains
Definitions of social development (in Nederveen
“The human development approach makes a strong case for combining equity
and growth along the lines of human capital: this can be extended with a
stronger perspective on the social dimension – as social development.”
Different understandings of “social development”:
“A narrow meaning of social development is public welfare policies of health,
education and housing…..The Copenhagen summit and the MDG reproduce
this tendency: social development usually ends up in the basket of poverty
Author sees social development as an equal emphasis placed both on the social
and on development, including an integrated approach to social concerns and
Midgley (1995: 25) defines social development as “a process of planned social
change designed to promote the well-being of the population as a whole in
conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development.”
Redistribution with growth (in Nederveen Pieterse,
Criticism: “The discourse of social development used by governments,
international institutions and many NGOs is social policy, which
usually means a social engineering, managerial approach.”
Implicit in social development are multiple layers of meaning, whether
social development is seen as social policy, whether it is managerial,
from above, or society-centred, from below.
Decade of the 1990’s: “In the 1990s, the idea of redistribution with
(or for) growth regained some ground in mainstream development
policy…..a genera concern with social indicators in measuring
development, to the point of redefining development itself; an
emphasis on human capital; and a growing critique of trickle down.”
World Bank has recognised the importance of safety nets for the poor
when implementing deficit reduction.
Human development and the case of East Asia (in
Nederveen Pieterse, 2010)
The World Bank has recognised that one of the initial conditions for rapid
growth in East Asia has been a relative equality of income in the first
generation of newly industrializing economies.
“….equity in income distribution and decent welfare systems are friends
not enemies of economic growth, a pattern clear for Japan, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, Korea and Singapore…..” (Weiss, 1996: 195).
“Large land reform schemes in both Korea and Taiwan, China, did away
with the landholding classes and made wage income the main source of
advancement.” (Leipziger and Thomas, 1995: 7).
Role of education in development: World Bank indicated that universal
or near universal primary school enrolment was the single most important
factor in launching these countries on a path of rapid economic growth.
Human development and the role of technologies (in
Nederveen Pieterse, 2010)
“Human development owes its definition to the emphasis on the
investment in human resources, human capital, which is prominent in
the East Asian model and Japanese perspectives on development and is
now a mainstream development position. The growing knowledge
intensity of economic growth, as in innovation-driven growth and the
emphasis on research and development technologies, reinforces the
argument that an investment in human capital fosters growth”.
Ul Haq (1995:21-2) mentions four ways to create links between
economic growth and human development:
“investment in education, health and skills; more equitable distribution
of income; government social spending; and empowerment of people,
especially women. …an HD paradigm of equity, sustainability,
productivity and empowerment.”
Social capital in development: how does this matter?
Can NGOs make a difference? (Bebbington, Hickey and
Core concern of the book: What are the challenges that NGOs face operating
within a market-driven reality and new security agenda? Can they contribute to
alternative forms of development? Or are they just destined to be at the
margins of development models determined by others?
Serious doubts about how far NGOs in the North are able to do anything that
is especially ‘’alternative’’ to their host countries’ bilateral aid programmes.
“There is a sense that their room for manoeuvre has been seriously constrained
by the security agenda, increasing political disenchantment with NGOs, the
constraints of a poverty impact agenda that will only fund activities with
measurable impacts on some material dimension of poverty, and also a sense in
which ‘’alternatives’’ have been swallowed whole within the newly
The mainstream being “participatory”?
Constraints also operating on NGOs in the South, which include funding
decisions and the political and economic environments in which they operate
Role of NGOs: challenges and future prospects (in Desai et al,
2002 and Bebbington et al, 2008)
Criticisms to NGOS: can be weak in contextual analysis of the societies in which
they work; technical skills; concerns with micro rather than the macro context and
the practice of participation in project implementation can be poor (in Desai et al,
Little ‘d’ and ‘big D’ Development:
“Hart (2001: 650) amends this distinction slightly to talk of ‘little d’ and ‘big D’
d/Development, whereby the former involves the geographically uneven,
profoundly contradictory’ set of processes underlying capitalist developments, while
the latter refers to the ‘project of intervention in the third world’ that emerged in a
context of decolonization and the cold war.”
Role of NGOs and big D development – “NGOs have been seen as sources of
alternative ways of arranging microfinance, project planning, service delivery, that
is, alternative ways of intervening…”
What constitutes ‘alternative’?:
Distinction is between partial, reformist, intervention-specific alternatives and
more radical, systemic alternatives.
Make Poverty History Campaign, Bolsa Familia and other
Role of ITCs in development (in Matos, 2012,
Norris, 2001; Nederveen Pieterse, 2010)
Pessimistic versus utopian theories surrounding the
Internet – One strand believes that the Internet will only
intensify inequalities, the other that it can contribute to reduce
“Various theories have explored the numerous advantages of
the web, including its assistance in globalisation and its
capacity to increase interconnectedness, permitting rapid
transmission of global events, the creation of global citizens
and the formation of a global civil society united in favour of
particular political causes.”
Both Norris (2001) and Nederveen Pieterse (2010) see the
digital divide debate less about providing computers in schools
in developing countries, and more about creating the means
for wider education in IT skills and literacy levels.
Rethinking development and the role of telecommunications
in the 1980s (in Stevenson, 1988)
• Questions for development in the 1980s were how to speed up the
transfer of technology, how to improve Third World capabilities and how
to expand the existing global system.
• Just as the use of communication to promote economic and political
development came under attack in the 1970s, the dominant Western style
of news-making was the focus of attacks in the 80s.
• By the early 1980’s, the question of the mass media’s role in national
development was almost as murky as it was a decade earlier (Stevenson,
• Different organizations, such as the MacBride Commission, the
International Telecommunications Union and the World Bank concluded
with evidence that telecommunications had been underrated in
communication development programmes
World Bank: The Citizen Cafe
Economic growth by itself has its limits, with the “neo-liberal” policies
of the 1980’s having been questioned. Possibilities of equating social
development with economic growth have began to be revisited
Multiple understandings of “what” social development is
Social welfare programmes (i.e. social policy or the welfare state) by
themselves as well are deemed problematic
NGOs are seen as having grown and occupied more space since the
1980’s precisely because of the decline of the state
Ambiguities exist regarding their role (service-providers for the state or
co-partners of the market) as well as contradictions (self versus
Is being a “mainstream” NGO necessarily means to suffocate its
Can NGOs still be “alternative” and make a difference?
• 1) According to Thussu, Boyd-Barrett, Mowlana and
Masmoudi, the global information order is characterised by
imbalances between the global north and south. Discuss these
imbalances and what were the proposals put forward during
the NWICO debates.
• 2) Outline the basic principles of modernisation and
dependency theories in development studies and its critiques.
• 3) Consider gender equality as a development goal. Discuss
strength and limitations. You may want to pick 2-3 authors to
focus your essay.
• 4) Do the media still have a role in national and international
• 5) Examine the strengths and limitations of participatory
approaches to development communication.
1) Using the texts that you have read, discuss the challenges facing
NGOs today and their future prospects. In what way can NGOs still be
“alternative” and make a difference?
2) Examine the definitions of social development given by Nederveen
Pieterse. According to him, how does the Millennium Development
Goals see it? Do you agree?
3) Using Desai’s et al text, examine the different perspectives in
development on aid in the last 50 years within the context of the shift in
development thinking regarding the role of the state, the market and
4) Choose a development campaign (i.e. Make Poverty History in
Africa) and discuss its preoccupation with participation (i.e.
democratic, communications), sustainability and understanding of
political and economic circumstances.
Readings for week 8
Matos, C. (2012) “Television, Popular Culture and Latin American and
Brazilian Identity” in Media and politics in Latin America: globalization,
democracy and identity, London: I.B Tauris, 139-169
Thussu, D. (2010) “Mapping global media flow and contra-flow” in Thussu, D.
(ed.) International Communication: a Reader, London: Routledge, 221-238
Matos, C. (2012) “Mass media and globalization” in Wiley-Blackwell’s
Encyclopedia of Globalization, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
McMillin, Divya (2007) International Media Studies
Nederveen Pieterse, Jan (2009) “Globalization as Hybridization” in
Globalization and culture: global melange, London: Rowman and Littlefield,
Sparks, C. (2007) “Culture and Media Imperialism” and “The Failure of the
Imperialism Paradigm” in Globalization, Development and the Mass Media,
London: Sage Publications