governance citizenship social struggle and globalization economic constraints

Politics, Societies and Institutions under Economic Constraints

Subtopics: economic development, globalisation, democratisation and regime change, international mobility, aid, orientalism

Even today, a person's place of birth plays a major role in shaping the opportunities that will be available over the course of his or her life. Global disparities in the organisation of societies and institutions mean that human beings across the world face very different sets of choices and options. This module seeks to interrogate whether the idea of "global poverty" is an effective tool to begin to analyse some of these differences.

Countries are deemed as poor usually on the basis of their Gross Domestic Product, and this has meaningful implications on the global stage. It makes a difference in whose citizens are allowed free movement across borders, and whose citizens are to be controlled. It determines who has a say in international institutions and therefore what those institutions consider as a global consensus. However, broad descriptors such as the "developing world" or "emerging markets" cast a wide net that catches livelihoods as diverse as that of a girl child seeking education in Mumbai or a cotton-farming head of household in Cotonou.

Academic study of this diverse group of nations and the individuals who are part of them is further complicated by the fact that many resources are concentrated in countries deemed rich, again on the basis of their Gross Domestic Product. So much of the capital – both social and financial - to set research agendas on poor countries is held by academies primarily operating in rich countries. How does this impact the knowledge that is produced? How is that knowledge applicable at the level of individual choices? -at the household level, at the national, regional, transnational levels?

This module is targeted at young social scientists with any sort of interest in studying the processes that keep some nations poor and some nations rich. It will tackle the complex interplay between economic poverty and the societies and institutions that are formed in those circumstances, and it will question how the methodologies across various social sciences influence our understanding of global poverty.