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Decaf empowerment? Post-Washington Consensus development policy, Fair Trade and Kenya's coffee industry

Pflaeger, Zoe Alexandra (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis seeks to make a contribution to the debate concerning the adoption of the language of empowerment and participation into Post-Washington Consensus development policy. Whilst it is acknowledged that the de-politicisation approach makes some valid contributions, it is argued that it suffers from a tendency to focus on the construction of development discourse. This has rather one-sidely led to the conclusion that the concept of empowerment has been used as an instrument of subjection. It is argued that the transformation approach offers a more nuanced analysis of participatory development practices that seeks to identify the opportunities that exist for their re-politicisation. Accordingly, the concept of empowerment should instead be examined as part of an ongoing political struggle to construct meaning and to harness action towards progressive political goals. This thesis makes a theoretical contribution to this debate by extending and consolidating the transformation approach through neo-Gramscian theory. Through its analysis of Fair Trade in the Kenyan coffee industry, it provides further empirical substantiation for the transformation approach. Whilst acknowledging the limitations of the World Bank’s approach to empowerment, this research identifies the opportunities and possibilities that exist for reasserting an alternative approach to producer empowerment based on the more radical notions of critical consciousness and collective social action. Given the highly unequal power relations that characterise the global coffee industry, this supports the argument put forward by the transformation approach that participatory development needs to explicitly engage with the wider power structures and institutions that perpetuate exclusion and inequality.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Subjects:JA Political science (General)
JC Political theory
HB Economic Theory
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1669
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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