ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Traversing the Field of Development Studies

Reclaiming Development Studies: Essays for Ashwani Saith edited by Murat Arsel,Anirban Dasgupta and Servaas Storm, London and New York: Anthem Press, 2021; pp 300, $40.

The academic field of development studies as a domain of research and policy advice is a contested terrain. Scholars from different social sciences with divergent ideologies have contesded its scope for decades. Yet the two major branches—development economics and “interdisciplinary studies of socio-economic and cultural change outside the capitalist core”—have synergised in the past while they competed with each other. The field was eclectic. Despite their diff­erences, participants communicated across ideologies and disciplines. Today, according to the editors of this interesting book, Reclaiming Development Studies: Essays for Ashwani Saith, the fields have separated. Neoclassical development economics has gained dominance and evicted interdisciplinary socio-economic analyses from the centre stage. The 13 essays assembled here in honour of Ashwani Saith aim to reverse this trend. They share the ambitious objective of reclaiming development studies from the stifling dominance of modern development economics.

These essays traverse a wide range of themes in which Saith has contributed. These include several traditional areas of development studies that remain central in today’s policy debates. Among them are persistent unemployment, surplus labour, informal enterprises, casual labour, migration, marginalisation, hunger, poverty and social inequality, the divergent growth paths of China and India, the remarkable recent achievements of Bangladesh, policy autonomy of dev­elo­p­ing countries under globalisation, and labour law and market reforms. The essays revisit these areas and attempt to update our understanding. Their tone is often combative and critical. They challenge the complacent acceptance of the dominant paradigm. This is a valuable exercise. Teachers and students would benefit from reading it. It would be useful in postgraduate courses on development and in stimulating research towards a new synthesis of understandings of development.

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Updated On : 8th Aug, 2022
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