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Report of the ESRC Expert Advisory Group on International Development October 2014

Fairhead, James; Elbe, Stefan; Homewood, Katherine; Howel, Jude; Jackson, Cecile; Jenkins, Rhys; Pellin, Mark; + view all (2014) Report of the ESRC Expert Advisory Group on International Development October 2014. ESRC: London, UK. Green open access

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Very real transformations are now occurring in the nature and extent of poverty, in the processes leading to impoverishment, inequality and injustice, and in the policy space and practices that can address these. The purpose of this report is to identify for ESRC the new challenges that these unfolding realities pose for social science researchers in the field of international development.This will (a) inform emerging ESRC research strategy more broadly and (b) inform the development of joint funding arrangements between ESRC and funding partners. In our increasingly interconnected world, the emerging research priorities in international development that we document inevitably dovetail closely with emergent social science agendas more generally.There is not one discipline for ‘the developing world’ and many for ‘the developed’. Development studies research and teaching centres do bring new tools, frameworks, methods and experience to grapple with these future development pressures and problems, but all social science disciplines are expanding their boundaries to think more globally rather than territorially – and in ways that the emergence of international development studies as a field has been encouraging. Re-emphasising the opportunities for research in international development to draw on and feed into wider methodological, theoretical and substantive research repertoires echoes a core principle of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda which is to be ‘integrated, holistic and universal, applying to all countries and all people’ and which thus eschews specific geographical foci. It echoes, too, the proposed Sustainable Development Goals which, beyond the principles of ending extreme poverty, seek to integrate social, economic, and environmental sustainability and inclusive growth within “a common understanding of our shared humanity, based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.”The ‘Third World’ and its euphemisms are fast becoming history. International development studies research does not secure its identity in a focus on a particular sub-set of countries or methods. International development research is, however, characterised by a problem-focused approach which this report is built around. But whilst much research in international development studies is unashamedly impact-led and supports a ‘what works’ agenda that speaks directly to wider policy concerns, this report prioritises, too, increased attention to the rapid transformations in global environments, economy, societies, cultures, politics and technologies that now reshape poverty and so reshape ‘what works’ as well as ‘for whom, when and why’.These changes are happening so fast and are so massive that for research to have maximum impact in informing the alleviation of mid-21st century poverty and inequality, it will need to be couched within new conceptualisations and new theorisations that capture these future realities. In particular, given the rising inequalities associated with current economic growth and new geographies of poverty that do not easily fall into particular countries,‘worlds,’ or points of the compass, it is our contention that ‘international development’ research needs not only to dwell on a broader range of countries and regions, but also to capture changing global orders producing and addressing poverty. In particular, embracing research on ‘middle income countries’ (MICs) is now important for understanding not only the predicament of the poor within, but also the drivers of steeply rising inequalities there which are of significance to the poor in countries with middle income aspirations. It will help, too, in understanding the nature of the multi-polar international order in which this will happen. In addition, BRICS and other MICs are sources of enormous social policy innovation that other countries stand to learn from; yet are often not well analysed. This report outlines challenges for a wide range of research, from that focused on refining specific interventions (education, health etc.) to the much broader analytical challenges that will necessitate conceptual breakthroughs and new analytical paradigms. Given the availability of more operational funding for the former, we suggest that there is a clear opportunity (and need) for ESRC to focus more (though not exclusively) on the broader questions and conceptual challenges. There are many ways to relate the cross cutting issues that we identify. Rather than develop a matrix, we set out key challenges and opportunities for research in relation to eight key trends: 1. Increasing inequalities in a connected world 2. Massive, differentiated urbanisation 3. Climate change and pushing against planetary limits 4. Emerging sensitivity to shocks, and their securitisation 5. Increasing political multipolarity 6. Emerging challenges to nation states in delivering development: social and physical infrastructure 7. New cultural shaping of poverty 8. Digital development, Big Data and the technological revolution We also highlight more methodological challenges: - Levering change: learning, incentives and beyond - Governing ‘international development’: measurement and beyond

Type: Report
Title: Report of the ESRC Expert Advisory Group on International Development October 2014
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ukri.org/councils/esrc/
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469071
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