Presentation on theme: "Definition and Pathologization of Poverty After WWII, the UN and World Bank defined 2/3 of the world as ‘poor’ and in need of development interventions."— Presentation transcript:
Definition and Pathologization of Poverty After WWII, the UN and World Bank defined 2/3 of the world as ‘poor’ and in need of development interventions. This is an example of objectification ‘Poverty’ also became pathologised, seen against the ‘norm’ of ‘developed’ countries: ‘illiterate,’ ‘underdeveloped,’ ‘malnourished,’ ‘small farmers,’ or ‘landless peasants’. This is an example of dividing practises. Subjectification of development discourse: villagers in Nepal began to differentiate themselves in terms of being ‘bikasi’ (developed) or ‘abikasi’ (underdeveloped). Subjectification is the second process that Foucault identifies in the creation of discourse; it involves the identification of subjects with the categories of discourse that have been set up by discursive institutions and completes the circle of power/knowledge.
Set up various technologies and knowledge instruments through which ‘development’ would be measured: Levels of poverty: this was defined through standards of living: those countries and regions in which per capita income was less than US $100 per year were defined as poor. Yet large regions of the globe only used limited money exchange at this time; they were largely subsistence economies who produced and exchanged goods locally or even traded goods, but not with money. These populations often involved household units that both cultivated and consumed the goods they produced. They were automatically defined as poor. Hunters and gatherers, fishers and other subsistence producers also became, through a stroke of the pen, defined as poverty-stricken.
Development or Destruction? Perhaps then, the goal of ‘development’ discourse was the destruction of subsistence economies and societies and the introduction of market economies so that American and other goods could then be sold throughout the world? The antidote to ‘poverty’ was usually the same prescription: increased commercialization, especially of ‘peasant’ and ‘tribal’ agriculture. But commercialization involved capital-intensive inputs that many could not afford to purchase, e.g. Green Revolution technology. Many lost their lands in the process. Cash crops were substituted for subsistence crops. Rural areas lost the capacity to feed themselves. Capital intensity and cash crop production introduced new inequalities. They were capital and not labour intensive and displaced people from the land. Led to a massive increase in ‘the unemployed’ and a huge low-cost labour force. Today, that labour force, often living at the margins of cities of urban areas, is referred to as ‘the informal economy’. In India, 92% of ‘new jobs’ are in the ‘informal sector’. In Latin America, 75% of new jobs are in the informal sector. –These jobs are characterized by low wages, temporary contracts, lack of regulation, no social security benefits and lack of pensions, or unemployment insurance. Also no health and safety regulations.
Development and Politics Allows certain questions to be asked, but disallows other questions from being asked. Example: development becomes a matter of economic and technical indicators in which the social and cultural changes involved become masked. It deflects attention away from the politics of distribution, or the destruction of subsistence societies. In Ferguson’s phrase, it is an anti-politics machine.