The panel addresses how politics shapes economic/social development through a focus on the findings of the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre. The presentation of the findings will be followed by a discussion of their implications for rethinking the politics of development.
The past decade has witnessed a growing level of disillusion regarding the capacity of new institutionalist thinking to offer clear insights into why some countries are more developed than others. In response, leading proponents such as Douglass North and James Robinson have revised their approaches to take greater account of the central role that politics plays in shaping long-run processes of development. However, there is a sense that these revised approaches continue to suffer from a range of ontological, methodological and ideological tendencies that prevent them from grasping the actual ways in which politics shapes development. The panel addresses the 'big question' through a focus on the findings of a major research effort into the politics of development by the Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) research centre (www.effective-states.org). ESID has spent five years investigating the comparative politics of development in 16 countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, with a focus on economic growth, social provisioning, women's empowerment and governance reform. It has employed an adapted version of the 'political settlements' framework, which has emerged recently as a challenger to the 'new' new institutionalist approach, and which focuses explicitly on how politics is shaped by relations of power and seeks to go beyond problems such as methodological nationalism and a narrow rational-actor understanding of politics that downplays the role of ideas. A summary of ESID's findings will be presented before leading authorities in the field discuss the implications for rethinking the politics of development