This book examines the management of ‘state fragility’ and the practices and impacts of quantification over relations of power in international politics.
With the further movement towards quantification, and as technical and technological changes advance, this book argues that certain important quantifying practices can be understood in terms of symbolic power, which is more nuanced and subtle. The aim is that such an understanding can also open space for considering other instances of power that are blurred and nuanced in current international politics. By looking at how the merging of conflict and development issues in the fragile states agenda has been fed by and has fed the authority of ever-perfectible numbers, the book offers an approach to address the difficulty in dealing with profound inequality without presuming domination. Instead, the example of the g7+ group of self-labelled ‘fragile states’ and its tools indicate that quantification has reached a point of no return, but it has done so through indirect practices of management and with the complicity, so to say, of those deemed least favoured by it. This shows that there is little chance that policy-makers and academics can escape dealing with numbers and there is much to be gained by understanding how complex and knowingly imperfect statistics become authoritative and widespread.
This book will be of much interest to students of critical security studies, International Political Sociology, development studies, and IR in general.
Introduction: Aid Engineering: The Correlates of Fragility
1. The Power in Being Practical
2. An Historical Sociology of the Fragile States Label
3. How Quantification Ranks Fragility, Development-And-Conflict
4. 'Good Enough' Politics
5. Efficiency Traps
6. Symbolic Power: The Costs of Engagement and Disengagement
Conclusions: The Case for Subtlety