Foreign Aid in the Age of Populism: Political Economy Analysis from Washington to Beijing, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Foreign Aid in the Age of Populism

Political Economy Analysis from Washington to Beijing, 1st Edition

By Viktor Jakupec, Max Kelly


192 pages

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Across the world the Western dominated international aid system is being challenged. The rise of right-wing populism, de-globalisation, the advance of illiberal democracy and the emergence of non-Western donors onto the international stage are cutting right to the heart of the entrenched neoliberal aid paradigm. Foreign Aid in the Age of Populism explores the impact of these challenges on development aid, arguing that there is a need to bring politics back into development aid; not just the politics of economics, but power relations internally in aid organisations, in recipient nations, and between donor and recipient.

In particular, the book examines how aid agencies are using Political Economy Analysis (PEA) to inform their decision making and to push aid projects through, whilst failing to engage meaningfully with wider politics. The book provides an in-depth critical analysis of the Washington Consensus model of political economy analysis, contrasting it with the emerging Beijing Consensus, and suggesting that PEA has to be recast in order to accommodate new and emerging paradigms. A range of alternative theoretical frameworks are suggested, demonstrating how PEA could be used to provide a deeper and richer understanding of development aid interventions, and their impact and effectiveness.

This book is perfect for students and researchers of development, global politics and international relations, as well as also being useful for practitioners and policy makers within government, development aid organisations, and global institutions.


"A provocative, innovative effort to re-politicize and re-think political economy analysis as a tool of development aid through an examination of the implications of larger currents of international political change, including the rise of populism and illiberalism and China's growing role in the developing world."Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA

"The book provides a timely, critical and thought-provoking analysis of the impact of contemporary challenges on decision making in orthodox development institutions. Political Economy Analysis is critically reviewed as an evaluation tool, leading to an insightful call for theoretical frameworks for PEA couched in an International Political Economy paradigm."Lisheng Dong, Professor, Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, PR China and University of Tartu, Estonia

"Jakupec and Kelly provide a compelling analysis of the contemporary development agenda. Their plea to apply a theoretically grounded political economy analysis to foreign aid is an important contribution to the debate. This book is a must read for everyone interested in the critical examination of the dominant neoliberal paradigm of development."Wil Hout, Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

"Jakupec and Kelly provide cutting-edge insights into contemporary complexities of foreign aid marked by the rise of populism, de-globalisation, and illiberal democracy. This highly innovative, timely and important book deserves to be read widely and carefully by scholars and development practitioners interested in better understanding the geopolitics of foreign aid."Susanne Soederberg, Professor, Department of Global Development Studies, Queen’s University, Canada

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Political Economy Analysis: A Distorted View of Reality

3. Political Economy Analysis: Deficiencies and Critiques

4. Unpacking Political Economy Analysis in a Foreign Aid Context

5. Populism: Challenging Socio-economic Orthodoxy

6. The Challenge of Illiberal Democracy

7. De-globalisation: Challenging the Foreign Aid Agenda

8. Beijing Consensus: Challenging the dominant Washington Consensus

9. Politicisation of Political Economy Analysis

10. [Re] Locating Political Economy Analysis: Theoretical Constructs and Practical Undertakings

11. Foreign aid: Political Economy Analysis at Crossroads

About the Authors

Viktor Jakupec is a Professor at Deakin University, Australia and the University of Potsdam, Germany.

Max Kelly is a senior academic in International and Community Development at Deakin University, Australia.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries