Politics and Power

While the concern for good governance has become widely accepted as a critical condition for advancing development agendas, the question of why democratic politics have not delivered better outcomes for the poor in developing countries remains elusive.

Recent trends challenge the conventional wisdom that democratic institutions are structures of voluntary cooperation, that solve redistributive conflicts and benefit all. A critical approach to the dynamics of power and the interactions between influential stakeholders (business groups, political elites, the military, the media, and international aid system) is necessary to understand why policy decisions may advance the interests of a privileged few at the expense of the less organised or poorly endowed. Often, alternative power dynamics take place outside legal structures through informal institutions or networks, which may contradict, complement or enhance the workings of formal institutions.

Relevant areas of work to understand the multiple dimensions of power include the new roles of private sector investment in providing development opportunities for the poor, the underlying factors facilitating collective action for service delivery, participatory approaches to empower minorities and excluded groups in the policy-making process, the incentives to improve responsiveness and accountability of elected officials, the politics of budget governance, and the politics of international aid among others.

Through our work we aim to inform scholarly debates, as well as influence domestic policymakers, international donors and most importantly the citizens of developing countries on alternative ways to secure greater social justice and equity.

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Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

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Gauthier Marchais, Research Fellow in the Conflict and Violence research cluster at IDS More details

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ER101 Front Cover

Toward Effective Violence Mitigation: Transforming Political Settlements

IDS Evidence Report 101 (2014)

Recognising the centrality of violence in the development process, in 2012–14 a group of researchers at IDS engaged in depth with the complex and thorny questions of how ‘new’ forms of violence in the developing world should be understood. More details

ER99 Front Cover

The HANCI Donor Index 2013: Measuring Donors’ Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries

IDS Evidence Report 99 (2014)

This report presents the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) 2013 for donor countries. More details

This is the cover to the report, 'Bridging and Bonding: Improving the Links Between Transparency and Accountability Actors'.

Bridging and Bonding: Improving the Links Between Transparency and Accountability Actors

Report (2014)

This report is for participants and others with an interest in technology for transparency and accountability. In the same spirit as the event, our intention is to share insights and lessons we have learned to help provoke thought and aide discussion. More details

This is the cover for IDS Bulletin 45.6, 'Rethinking Impact Evaluation for Development'.

Rethinking Impact Evaluation for Development

IDS Bulletin 45.6 (2014)

This IDS Bulletin presents a 'rallying cry' for impact evaluation to rise to the challenges of a post-MDG/post-2015 world. It is the first of two issues that follow a workshop entitled 'Impact, Innovation and Learning: Towards a Research and Practice Agenda for the Future', held at IDS in March 2013. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC report Enabling citizen engagement and accountable, responsive government: Strategy synthesis.

Enabling Citizen Engagement and Accountable, Responsive Government: Strategy Synthesis

Making All Voices Count is a programme that began with a clearly defined set of aims, a theory of change (ToC) and a structure centred on four linked components – innovation, scaling, research and evidence, and catalysing global action. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Illustrating the Rise in Food Prices in Zambia: Household Expenditure Shares and Price Indexes, 2006 and 2010

Food consumption and subsequently household welfare are sensitive to changes in food prices. This is especially so among poorer households who can spend up to three quarters of their income on food (Cranfield, Preckel, & Hertel, 2007). More details

IDS publications on international development research

"The Constitution Lies To Us": Securing Accountability for the Right to Food in Kenya

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

Factors rooted in Kenya’s history and political economy have dampened citizen expectations of the state, thwarted popular mobilisation and generated weak state responses. This raises a question of responsibility. In this paper, we explore the failure and efforts to overcome them, before considering how accountability for hunger can be made the norm. More details

Cover for IDS report entitled the Moral and Political Economy of Food Security in Bangladesh

The Food Riots That Never Were: The Moral and Political Economy of Food Security in Bangladesh

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

The green revolution and the global integration of food markets were supposed to relegate scarcity to the annals of history. So why did thousands of people in dozens of countries take to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011? More details

Boy stand by a burning car in the 2008 Mozambique riots.

Them Belly Full (But We Hungry): Food Rights Struggles in Bangladesh, India, Kenya

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

The green revolution and the global integration of food markets were supposed to relegate scarcity to the annals of history. So why did thousands of people in dozens of countries take to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011? Are food riots the surest route to securing the right to food in the 21st century? More details

IDS publications on international development research

Hunger Revolts and Citizen Strikes: Popular Protests in Mozambique, 2008-2012

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

In February 2008 and September 2010, the cities of Maputo and Matola were the scene of violent protests against the rise in the cost of living, undertaken by groups of ordinary citizens. Immediately afterwards, these protests were replicated in some other Mozambican cities, but on a much smaller scale, and they were quickly brought under control by the police. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Why a governance perspective could contribute to improving drug policy and engaging the international development community: Lessons from Colombia

The International Journal of Drug Policy 25.5 (2014)

Focusing on the governance of policy-making and delivery may help overcome some of the seemingly unbridgeable divides in drug policy, and open up possibilities for innovation. More details

ER95 Front Cover

Indian Development Cooperation: the State of the Debate

IDS Evidence Report 95 (2014)

In this changing landscape, India is becoming an important player . India’s increased volume of development cooperation or DC (particularly to African countries), its clearer articulation of a rejection of ‘traditional’ aid principles, and its growing role as a representative of emerging economies that aim to act as a bridge between the North and South have led to it becoming a key figure in shaping the future of international DC. How is this new role being perceived domestically? More details

IDS publications on international development research

Devolving the Power to Divide: Sectarian Relations in Egypt (2011–12)

IDS Bulletin 45.5 (2014)

Post-Mubarak Egypt is taken as a case study involving the informal devolution of power in managing sectarian relations between the majority Muslim and minority Christian populations between February 2011 and June 2012. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency

Pre-submitted version of article for IDS Bulletin 45.5 More details

IDS publications on international development research

Beyond Ballotocracy: Citizens' Voices and the Many Faces of Unruly Politics

IDS Bulletin 45.5 (2014)

The article argues that attempts to methodologically capture the 'pulse of citizens' must be sensitive to its dynamic nature (requiring constant revision and verification) and sensitive to the highly specific contextual nature of its expression and decryption. More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2014

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

ER91 Front Cover

Rising Powers in International Development: the State of the Debate in South Africa

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South Africa occupies an interesting position in the international development debate. On the one hand, as Africa’s most developed, diversified and, until recently, largest economy representing close to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), it is an active player in numerous global governance and development fora. More details

ER88 Front Cover

The Russian Federation’s International Development Assistance Programme: A State of the Debate Report

IDS Evidence Report 88 (2014)

Russia is unique among emerging donors for being a ‘re-emerging’ donor: the Soviet Union was one of the largest donor countries in the world, and Russia’s period as an aid recipient was relatively brief. Russian development cooperation is driven by key security and economic priorities, as well as resulting from commitments made to multilateral organisations. More details

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On Speaking, Mediation, Representation and Listening

This think piece reflects on experiences, debates, assumptions, and questions about what ‘voice’ is and how it can be supported within the Making All Voices Count Framework. More details

ER78 Front Cover

The Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2013): Measuring the Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries

IDS Evidence Report 78 (2014)

This report presents the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) 2013. More details