The Emperor's New Clothes: a moral tale for development experts?
While global problems of poverty, inequality, and social upheaval are on the increase, the language used by development agencies and development experts sounds increasingly radical and idealistic. New socio-political conditions have been borrowed from real contexts in the South, only to be re-imposed on Southern 'partners'. Notions like empowerment, participation, and governance are paradoxically enforced through top-down, external intervention. Hans Christian Andersen's parable of the Emperor's new clothes highlights the illusory nature of this re-packaging of development policies in the 1990s. One major difficulty is that micro- and meso-level socio-political conditionalities remain subordinated to macro-level economic liberalisation. They look participatory from a distance, but at close quarters these measures have effectively become new forms of management and control, which are just as costly [as the old methods] but do not result in great benefits to project participants. (Craig and Porter 1997:50, commenting on the current vogue for mainstreaming of participation in development projects) Beautiful images of the high goals of the official development discourse and deep internal turbulence were clearly interdependent [but] contradictions between the discourse of goals and means and what is actually being achieved may not be visible any more. (Quarles van Ufford 1995:4, 12-13, 14) Development in Practice, 9:4, pp. 382-95.
(Bibliografisk kilde: HCAH)