Alex Cisneros (2017)
MA thesis, University of Jyväskylä, Finnland
Abstract. How does the tension resolve between a moral order with egalitarian imperatives, such as sustainable and inclusive human development, and a global political economy based on a market system that prioritizes meeting the wants and needs of those with purchasing power? By developing a comprehensive theoretical framework as analytical contribution, I propose to rethink a practice-intensive field and analyze the texts that represent the dominant discourse in development policies: the UNDP Human Development Reports and the World Bank’s World Development Reports. These influential institutions have shaped the rise of neoliberalism as a hegemonic development paradigm, and their discourses about development have shaped socioeconomic logics of what ‘worth’ means, turning market-led growth – without equity – to be recognized and justified as generic development policy. Global inequality, enacted through normalized intersubjective relational disorders, has become a ‘natural’ situation in which there is apparent agreement to tackle inconsistencies under a seemingly tolerable promise of proper management in a future of sustained status quo. My thesis analyzes the way these disruptive situations, despite the crises of legitimation and questioning, appear to hold together. My research dwells in overlapping fields, between the German social philosophy in Axel Honneth’s Theory of Recognition, and the French economic sociology in Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot’s methodology of Justification and Economies of Worth. Understanding this process will need a complex methodological scope, which: 1) maps patterns of exclusion, using a recognition-theoretical view of inequality as a displacement of exclusionary practices, and shifts of relational disorders in society; 2) applies conceptual tools to describe subject-formation and performativity under these disorders, including their political dimension; 3) grounds these theoretical findings in the context of development studies, unveiling unconscious attachments that subjects have to actively prefer and accept these relations; and 4) applies a holistic and highly pragmatic methodology of Justification and Economies of Worth to analyze and identify how this process is justified to an extent to which inequality is tolerated. I use this intersecting methodology to analyze the Human Development Reports by the United Nations Development Programme, and how they resolve the paradoxical tension in favor of neoliberal capitalism by being subjectively different, but objectively aligned and complicit.