State, Societies and the Politics of Development

States, Societies and the Politics of Development
Weight of the course
Course Leader
Teaching Methods
Joop de Wit
Joop de Wit, Sylvia Bergh
Participatory Lecture
Written examination: 100%
Vlada Tchirikova
Learning objectives
At the end of the course, students will know:
 the relevance of politics to development and how political power influences the direction
and outcomes of development interventions;
 key concepts and theories of the state, state-society interactions, political systems, as
well as sovereignty and legitimacy;
 different forms of government (democratic, authoritarian, developmental) as well as
actors in governance and democracy such as politicians and civil society organizations;
 leading determinants and characteristics of state formation, social forces and
development, including the use and abuse of state power and relations between state
and non-state actors in development situations.
Course description
Politics structure the possibilities for realising development, social justice and societal change.
This course introduces students to the major manifestations of political power by locating it in the
context of state-society relationships. It will enable students to analyse and communicate how
development mediates power relations and structures, and how states, societies and institutions
at local, national and international levels influence each other. Having completed the course the
students will be able to explain the centrality of political power in development interventions, and
in responses and counter-responses to these interventions.
The course is located in the field of politics of development and addresses key concepts and
theories of power in relation to the actors and institutions of governance and democracy in
development. This foundation course in politics furthermore introduces students to certain themes
that lay the foundations for explaining this enduring relationship, namely:
 Classical theories of the state, state-society interactions and political systems.
 Critical introduction to broad notions of sovereignty and legal, democratic and other
(traditional, charismatic) forms of legitimacy.
 Different types of political systems and government regimes, including the role of
nationalism, ideology and political stability.
 The relations between governance and politics and non-state actors such as civil society,
social movements and market actors and firms.
Indicative readings
Bebbington, AJ, Hickey, S and Mitlin, D (2008) Can NGOs Make a Difference: The Challenge of
Development Alternatives. London: Zed Books.
Fritz, V and Menocal A R (2007) 'Developmental States in the New Millennium: Concepts and Challenges
for a New Aid Agenda', Development Policy Review 25(5): 531-552.
Haugaard, M (ed.) (2002) Power: A Reader. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Heywood, A (1999) Political Theory: An Introduction. London: Palgrave
Heywood, A (2002) Politics. London: Palgrave.
Leftwich, A (2000) States of Development: The Primacy of Politics’ in Development. London: Polity Press.
Robinson, M and G. White (eds) (1998) The Democratic Developmental State: Politics and Institutional
Design, New York: Oxford University Press.