Understanding Development Economics: Its Challenge to Development Studies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Development Economics

Its Challenge to Development Studies, 1st Edition

By Adam Fforde


354 pages

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Important parts of development practice, especially in key institutions such as the World Bank, are dominated by economists. In contrast, Development Studies is largely based upon multidisciplinary work in which anthropologists, human geographers, sociologists, and others play important roles. Hence, a tension has arisen between the claims made by Development Economics to be a scientific, measurable discipline prone to wide usage of mathematical modelling, and the more discursive, practice based approach favoured by Development Studies.

The aim of this book is to show how the two disciplines have interacted, as well as how they differ. This is crucial in forming an understanding of development work, and to thinking about why policy recommendations can often lead to severe and continuing problems in developing countries.

This book introduces Development Economics to those coming from two different but linked perspectives; economists and students of development who are not economists. In both explaining and critiquing Development Economics, the book is able to suggest the implications of these findings for Development Studies, and more broadly, for development policy and its outcomes.


'By exploring the often tetchy and conflict-ridden boundaries between 'pure' economics and development practice, this book sheds important light on the strengths and weaknesses of each, and should help both sides understand and learn better from each other.' Duncan Green, Oxfam

‘Adam Fforde is a long-standing sceptic when it comes to development economics, and in the wake of the global economic crisis he has written an important book that not only challenges the orthodoxies of development economics but also shows what development studies can learn by challenging the orthodoxies of development economics. Students of development economics and development studies will both benefit from engaging with the central arguments of Understanding Development Economics. It is a book that deserves to be widely read.’Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Trent University, Canada

‘Don’t be deceived by appearances: not only is this a comprehensive, scholarly, and practical textbook, it’s also a rapprochement between the disciplines of development economics and development studies. These two approaches to development are too often separated ideologically, epistemologically and methodologically. Fforde’s informed mediation is both timely and welcome. A ‘must read’ for undergraduates, postgraduates and professional scholars with an interest in international development. Prepare to be challenged!’ —Peter Case, James Cook University, Australia

"Understanding Development Economics is a valuable contribution to some of the perennial controversies that continue to inform its practitioners." Bill Lucarellia, University of Western Sydney, Australia

"It is a sceptical examination of development economics and its epistemological and normative underpinnings from a trained economist, written for economists and development studies readers. It is also a book that, while focused on development economics, in various places gives a sense of how (at least some) development studies academics think."Terence Wood, The Australian National University

Table of Contents

Part 1: Development Economics: Theory and its Application 1. Ways to Cope with Development Economics 2. Evidence and Positions 3. Interdisciplinary Boundaries: the Limits of Economics 4. Development Economics 5. Toward Better Management of Understanding 6. Coping with Facts 7. Established Theories of Economic Growth Part One 8. Established Theories of Economic Growth Part Two 9. Micro-foundations 10. Contemporary Internal Radicalism 11. Alternative Economic Theories 12. Other Visions of the Developing Economy 13. More Visions of the Developing Economy 14. Determinants of Economic Policy in Developing Countries 15. Policy Debacles and their Legacy Part Two: Topics and Issues 16. Poverty, Inequality and Accounts 17. The Economics of Factor Markets in Economic Development 18. Development Dogmas and their Histories 19. Import Substituting Industrialization Revisited 20. Globalization and Economic Development: Some Histories 21. Why East Asia? 22. Conclusions

About the Author

Adam Fforde is a part-time Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia, and he holds an honorary position at the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, Australia.

About the Series

Economics as Social Theory

Social Theory is experiencing something of a revival within economics. Critical analyses of the particular nature of the subject matter of social studies and of the types of method, categories and modes of explanation that can legitimately be endorsed for the scientific study of social objects, are re-emerging. Economists are again addressing such issues as the relationship between agency and structure, between economy and the rest of society, and between the enquirer and the object of enquiry. There is a renewed interest in elaborating basic categories such as causation, competition, culture, discrimination, evolution, money, need, order, organization, power probability, process, rationality, technology, time, truth, uncertainty, value etc.

The objective for this series is to facilitate this revival further. In contemporary economics the label “theory” has been appropriated by a group that confines itself to largely asocial, ahistorical, mathematical “modelling”. Economics as Social Theory thus reclaims the “Theory” label, offering a platform for alternative rigorous, but broader and more critical conceptions of theorizing.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Macroeconomics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics