Journal of Critical Realism 10 (4):442-464 (2011)
In the 1980s and 1990s the predominant metatheories in development analysis were cast into doubt by their apparent failure in practice. One response to this impasse in development theory was to turn to postmodern ideas to explain their failure. In particular many analysts utilized Foucauldian discourse theory to critique development as a discourse of power. Such analysis gave rise to a post-development school of thought that condemned development as harmful to people in the Global South and advocated its abandonment. This paper argues that most such attempts at a discourse analysis of development were characterized by serious flaws related to skepticism, notably problems of performative contradiction and relativism. Consequently, the paper argues for an alternative approach in the form of a development ethics drawing on aspects of deconstructionist and critical realist thought
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