‘How does change happen?’ and ‘How should change happen and how can it be enabled?’ are key questions analysed in this IDS Bulletin, drawing on the Institute of Development Studies’ reflections on States, Markets and Society as a theme of its 50th Anniversary year. The year generally, and this Bulletin issue specifically, looks back in order to look forward to future challenges and how to meet them. While the first part of this IDS Bulletin draws on a selection of archive articles to highlight key debates over the decades, the second part looks forward by drawing on contributions to IDS’ 50th Anniversary conference, which took place in July 2016.
The roles and relationships of the public and private sectors and civil society have been central themes in analysis and action around the social, economic and political change that constitutes development. However, articles in this issue suggest that over-dominance of market forces over government, business and civil society accounts for many of today’s development challenges, and suggest a rebalancing of the current States–Markets–Society triad to give greater weight and influence to state and societal forces to those of the market. An agenda is also considered for new alliances and relationships, suggesting that cross-cutting themes and inter- and transdisciplinary approaches will be required – by international partnerships – to integrate high quality research with the knowledge of people working in state, business and civil society organisations, mobilising evidence for impact. In such ways, this IDS Bulletin charts some contours of a future map of development studies, in a new era.