On the critique of the subject of development: Beyond proprietary and methodological individualism

Weber, Martin (2007) On the critique of the subject of development: Beyond proprietary and methodological individualism. Globalizations, 4 4: 460-474. doi:10.1080/14747730701695703

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Author Weber, Martin
Title On the critique of the subject of development: Beyond proprietary and methodological individualism
Journal name Globalizations   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1474-7731
Publication date 2007-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/14747730701695703
Volume 4
Issue 4
Start page 460
End page 474
Total pages 14
Editor H. Weber
M. T. Berger
Place of publication Abingdon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
360104 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
750699 Government and politics not elsewhere classified
Abstract Contemporary development discourse remains framed substantially and methodologically in terms of individualist premises. The advancement of individual well-being, even in more heterodox accounts, serves as a normative backdrop to policy recommendations, in which development discourse unquestioningly reproduces core tenets of liberal thought—tenets which, this paper argues, need to be critically interrogated. The paper conducts this interrogation in three steps. First, it reconstructs some of the basic motifs of liberal thought and the establishment of methodological individualism, as well as the substantive conception of proprietary subjectivity. Second, it retraces C. B. MacPherson's critique of the latter, and his substantive exploration of ‘developmental freedom’ as an alternative to the proprietary conception of liberalism's ‘freedom of choice’. I argue that MacPherson's critique succeeds in a way, which poses a continuing challenge to contemporary development discourse's affinity towards disciplinary economics. However, while MacPherson's substantive critique of proprietary individualism remains cogent, I show that his approach remains tied to methodological individualism, with problematic implications. In the third part of the paper, I outline a remedy for these shortcomings with reference to intersubjectivist critical social theory, by drawing on the example of Axel Honneth's recognition theoretic approach. The latter offers, I argue, the best prospect for integrating concerns typically framed in terms of the ‘politics of identity and difference’, and those under the ‘politics of inequality’.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 17 Apr 2008, 16:21:21 EST by Ms Kelly Parish on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies