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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Participatory Development and Empowerment: The Dangers of Localism

Author: Mohan et al.,Giles
Author Background:
Date April 2000
Type Journal
Journal Title: Third-World-Quarterly
Volume/Pages 21(2) 247-268
Subject Matter Community Development
Abstract Recent discussions in development have moved away from holistic theorization toward more localized, empirical, & inductive approaches. In development practice, there has been a parallel move toward local participation & empowerment, which has produced, albeit with very different agendas, a high level of agreement between actors & institutions of the New Left & the New Right. Here, the manifestations of this move are examined in four key political arenas: (1) decentralized service delivery, (2) participatory development, (3) social capital formation & local development, & (4) collective actions for radical democracy. It is argued that, by focusing so heavily on the local, the manifestations tend to underplay both local inequalities & power relations as well as national & transnational economic & political forces. Following from this, a stronger emphasis on the politics of the local, ie, on the political use of the local by hegemonic & counterhegemonic interests, is advocated. Adapted from the source document