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Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development

ISBN: 978-1-55786-300-3
212 pages
July 1992, Wiley-Blackwell
Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development (1557863008) cover image


Two-thirds of the population of the world are poor, and their number is growing in the first as well as in the third world, despite billions of dollars of aid. The economic development policies of the last two decades, and the theory which gave rise to them, have been discredited. The rich are disillusioned, apprehensive or uninterested, while the poor are embittered and without hope, the victims and agents of ignorance, instability and environmental degradation. The need for radical rethinking is urgent: this book makes an important contribution towards that end.

John Friedmann argues that poverty should be seen not merely in material terms, but as social, political and psychological powerlessness. He presents the case for an alternative development committed to empowering the poor in their own communities, and to mobilizing them for political participation on a wider scale. In contrast to centralized development policies devised and implemented at the national and international level, alternative development restores the initiative to those in need, on the grounds that unless people have an active role in directing their own destinies long-term progress will not be achieved.

The author takes the household as the strategic starting-point - stressing its moral, political and economic potential - as a source of continuity and as a location for production. From this basis he propounds a politics of emancipation that would enable the disempowered poor to assert their rights.

Empowerment provides a morally-informed theoretical framework for a development policy that meets the needs of its recipients rather than of its makers.

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Table of Contents

1. Alternative Development: Its Origins and Moral Justification.

2. Trajectory: From Exclusion to Empowerment.

3. Rethinking the Economy: The Whole-Economy Model.

4. Rethinking Poverty: The (Dis)Empowerment Model.

5. Political Claims I: Inclusive Democracy and Appropriate Economic Growth.

6. Political Claims II: Gender Equality and Intergenerational Equity.

7. Practice: From Social to Political Power.

Epilogue: Some Questions for Rich Countries.



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The Wiley Advantage

* Argues an innovative and practical approach to development theory. * An approach through empowerment, not more aid. * Shows how the issue of poverty relates to gender and to environmental degradation.
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"This book is probably the most important contribution to the field of alternative development in the last ten years or so." Ignacy Sachs, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris

"As an introduction into 'Alternative' development discourse, Friedman's work is definitely a valuable and timely addition." Community Development Journal

"Friedmann's treatment of the subject of development here is highly innovative and should prove of interest to a broad range of planners, geographers, and others concerned with advancing an interdisciplinary perspective of development." Antipode

"Interesting for any practitioner concerned with problems in the developing world, problems of local economy, and planning issues in the community." Journal Systems Practice

"A worthy attempt to provide an alternative model to mainstream approaches to development. It is written in an accessible style, well punctuated with apt and interesting practical examples of alternative organisation." Capital and Class

"Friedmann's work is a significant addition to the literature. It should be invaluable as a textbook for courses on development across disciplines." Development and Change

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