Another way to make the world go ’round

March 28, 2008

Ten years ago I used to play the No Doubt album Tragic Kingdom over and over. At that time I loved “I’m just a girl” (take this pink ribbon off my eyes…), probably because it suited my post-teen feminist angst. A few days ago I ‘rediscovered’ the album in MP3 format and today was playing it on my walk home from university. This time it was the song “Make the world go ’round’ that caught my attention and it has been going through my head all evening.

You see there’s many many many many
People in the world
And I’m not sure if I like
What I’ve heard
I’m not sure if I like
What I’m doin myself
I’m not sure if I like how the world turns
How the world turns

Oh degradation – great big world (great big world)
I’m in violation – oh
Inexcusable exploitation
It’s the dawning of a new era
People consciously don’t care
How unfair

You find another way
To make the world go ’round
You gotta find another way
To make the world go ’round
We gotta find another way
To make the world go ’round

I’ve been feeling quite disillusioned with the world recently, but a bizarre mix of pop culture and academia made an impact on me today.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few days on types of development (please bear with me as I get theoretical for a minute).  One of the key concepts in Development Studies over the past decade has been the idea of immanent vs. intentional development (Cowen and Shenton Doctrines of Development, 1996)- immanent development being development that occurs as the result of undirected, organic change (such as the industrial revolution, or the current information revolution) and intentional development being literally deliberate, planned intervention (ie development projects).  Today I was reading an article by Anthony Bebbington, who argues that neither form of change is having an positive impact on the lives of the poorest.  This has been the crux of some of my recent disillusionment- that global change seems incredibly destructive yet unstoppable, and development agencies and projects seem to have limited (or only local) sucess.  Bebbington argues that development academics and practitioners should be looking for a third way- that development should be “about redistributions and transformations… to recover the meaning of development as social justice” (“NGOs and uneven development: Geographies of development” 2004).

This is encouraging to me.  Of course he doesn’t elaborate on how this might be done- maybe I have to look for more recent articles- but I am happy to know that someone with a lot more academic credentials than me is actually thinking this way.  It restores my faith in Development Studies somewhat.  Perhaps in academia I may get the opportunity to help find another way to make the world go ’round.

Now that just sounds cheesy and way optomistic.  But at least I’m feeling a little better about things.

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