Final Blog Post

Politics of Developing Areas was honestly the best course I could have taken as I consider my post-graduation plans. Going into IDS in the future seems ideal, however, this class altered as well as confirmed previous positions on international development and nonetheless makes me more skeptical of the development route I plan to go on.

 

Personally, I found the sections focusing on the great divergence extremely insightful, because the course consistently revisited the challenges to future convergence beyond the specified unit. Prior to the course, I would not have been able to exactly explain or really even guess why the world has split the way it is. Furthering on with that historical information, I would not have been able to conceptualize what could possibly be done to alter the process of divergence in the future, and how international aid could impact it, or even continue the divergence at a greater distance.

 

The entire course encompassed all of the challenges to international development and provided examples as to why these previous abstract deadlines of development have not been met. I do think that time frames run the risk of being damaging. It is reassuring to put an end-goal on a timeline of developmental projects and what is hoped to come out of them. However, it is not easily predictable whether or not the projects will have the timely success as intended, nor is it predictable that the environment that the project/program implemented will enable the change.

 

Hoping to have some sort of career in the developmental field in the future, there was great importance in focusing on the failures of programs such as structural adjustments and state-led development, again (!), why what works in one country does not mean that it can be packaged up and given to another. To focus on a specific country, I thought Japan’s rise was interesting to discuss. It is a country that I did not know a great deal of it’s history and how that tied into its current economic standing in the world sphere through MITI was a concept that I was not familiar with.

 

I do agree with Easterly regarding the accountability aspect of the Global North. Being outsiders to a struggling nation, difficulty presents itself in transparency and legitimacy when trying to assure aid recipients that their projects will be effective and not b driven by self-interest. The whole conversation regarding states acting in their own favor to lend aid to other countries will possibly not end in my lifetime. Whether it be economic advancement or resulting from previous colonial appearance, there is this whole incentive for countries to expand/invade into others.

 

In regards to the Global North combating poverty, I believe that it is doable. I would have to agree with Sach’s in the sense that countries need to get themselves on the ladder through international actors prompting growth. However, the complexity of what that aid looks like or how it will function regarding sustainable growth is an issue that I cannot attempt to give an answer to. I could provide possible to-dos and what not-to-do, but suggesting that these projects will be successful based on other historical accounts or the knowledge of Western scholars is not necessarily justifiable. Also, future development will only be successful if it is done bottom-up as it has been confirmed that implemented programs from above does necessarily mean that they will be successful where they are intended to be. It is so complex!!!! But, nonetheless motivating.

 

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Factory Girls

Throughout out the global community, countries are experiencing rural to urban movements resulting from the advancing economies and job opportunities in urban areas. For young Chinese workers living in rural places, they refer to this migration as “going out.” Young Chinese women, specifically, are heavily involved in this migration in hopes of pursuing greater opportunities to provide for their families back home, as well as prospering themselves economically. These people living in the rural areas feel a huge sense of disconnection between themselves and their governments, often feeling neglected, hence their drive behind the movement. Though these jobs do promise an income, the conditions the women are working in and the monthly wages they are working for are not as promising.

 

The whole concept of “going out” encompasses motives surrounding bettering ones future through obtaining an income to financially support to their families who they are not very far from. It consists of a constant hunt to find better opportunities than they had previously and blindly walked themselves into. Young women understand that they are essentially guaranteed some form of job, predominately factory workers, if they choose to leave their homes. This movement is often completed alone, and leaves the women alone in every sense of the way.

 

The responsibility of providing for families falls heavily upon women, being that culturally, they are not as valued as men. Their presence, or more so, lack of presence, is not a primary concern to the nuclear family structure. Given the level of appreciation level within the home, it only makes sense that this transfers into the work force. There is a divide between the job opportunities available for men and women in the workforce, the women are often set to standards that are heavily degrading- whether it is based on ability or simply not being eligible due to their gender. Therefore, women are often sought out as factory workers working long hours in crammed conditions, while the men obtain jobs such as construction workers or overseeing the factories.

 

Though it is quite easy to get some stuck into the factory business due to bosses disapproving ones leave and other obstacles advancing ones factory stay, there is ability to advance oneself. For example, Min in Factory Girls from Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang, was able to educate herself while still upholding a position within a factory. Though her days were long and taking a toll on her, she was able to educationally advance herself, leading to advancements within the job place

 

The question of whether or not this migration is suitable for all young people in rural China, or throughout the world, is a personal decision. The working conditions, the low wages, the separation from families, the lack of respect from factory employees due to high turnover rates, and the mental and emotional obstacles are all common battles young women are facing as they transition to this new life.

 

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Blog 10/24

The IMF and World Bank have given out numerous reform projections to the developing countries of the world throughout the past several decades. Though some have had greater success than others, the majority of reform projects have not been as effective as intended to be. In turn, this has lead countries to continue returning as reform recipients in order to continue on the process of reshaping their economies, despite both external and internal forces working against them.

 

One explanation of why the IMF and World Bank reforms are vastly unsuccessful falls heavily upon the dependency that countries have securitized their economies to. However, This outside intervention has enabled countries to reap the benefits of foreign aid without being willing to completely, or even slightly, change their own foreign policies that are in place regarding structural reform. It dismantles any sort of incentivizing and becomes extremely problematic due to governments own desire for self-gains. The dependency has harmed the recipients’ macroeconomics, by disabling the growth process due to government’s policy changing at a rate that is much slower than the influx of foreign aid, or results in policy not changing at all. The responsibility of successful reform falls upon the government officials receiving the projects and their willingness to comply with what the IMF and World Bank are asking to grow itself, rather than accept the dependency.

 

Continuing on with the historically flawed reform packages brings forth the cookie-cutter global reform package. It is this false notion that if a project worked in one country then it is ultimately going to succeed in another. What enables this mindset is the distinct gap existing amongst the people who are making the packages and those who are receiving them. Therefore, creating bad reforms and aiding in countries continuing to receive future IMF and World Bank assistance. This failed mechanism is exemplified by John Rapley, who states that the World Bank and IMF have invoked programs that had success throughout Latin America in countries throughout Africa, with the end goal being growth as it did in other regions. The reason this is problematic is that their success is heavily based on assumption rather than analyzing how these projects from Latin America will play out in African nations. The institutions have failed to view these recipient countries as individuals, and resorting to grouping reform recipients together in attempt to transfer reform success.

 

To return to Rapley, he argues that an added aspect to halting success with reform projects is the economic shift that takes places amongst the classes once they have received the packages. These packages are generally created to enable the poorer workers to catch up to the wealthier ones, which in turn have heightened tensions amongst the shifting classes. This argument presents great validity due to both the social and economic shifts that are occurring within a country as it receives outside aid, something that is not as visible as if it were enacted by a country’s own government. This internal conflict halts and distorts the growing process that a country could have potentially undergone from the reform projects.

 

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Corruption

Claiming that there is a single “root cause” of corruption is not completely justifiable being that corruption is multifaceted. Dissecting the different elements that contribute to it being awaken within a society is vital in grasping an overall definition for the term. However, while there may not be a “root cause,” there are certain elements and themes that have being reoccurring to explain why corruption has surfaced at certain places and times than others.

 

In Samuel Huntington’s Modernization and Corruption, he argues that modernization is believed to be the key contributor to corruption in societies. He supports his argument by firstly defining corruption as the result of going against society, and then continues on throughout the piece to explain how modernization has been a defining feature in episodes of societal rejection.

 

One case Huntington makes is that as societies evolve, or modernize, they are experiencing a period of transition, which alters what was previously viewed as normal in society. This process has the ability to shake members within a said society due to the fact that modernization is pushing developmental change onto their lives. The society is experiencing a shift, and those who are not willing to reject traditional standards have a higher probability of lashing out than those who are willing. Hence, modernization adding to the explanation of how corruption is more likely to occur at certain places and times than other.

 

Continuing on with this notion of transition brings up another aspect of corruption: power shifts within the government. Societies that are experiencing change or shifts in their government have the probability of experiencing corruption. When a country’s government has this type of power transition, there is a sense of trust that has to be either regained or rejected by society, which will pave the way for corrupt activity to present itself or remain absent. An example of this can type of corruption is examined in The Broker and the Thief: A Parable, by Robert Gay. The article focuses on the transition Brazil underwent into a democracy, and how the country’s shift in power awakened destructive activity in previously deemed as safer regions of the country.

 

Going alongside this transition while revisiting Huntington’s piece, another aspect that attempts to explain the timing and location of corruption is how large of a body the leaders are overseeing. Huntington argues that there is likely to be more corruption at lower and local levels rather than on the top. However, Huntington’s initial thought neglects the unstable national leaders, governments and institutions throughout the world- essentially stating that the good guys will always be found at the top. However, this is not always the case when dealing with authoritarian or dictator regimes. The presence or absence of corruption highly depends on the state governments structure since the local leaders and smaller bodies have to adhere to what the national leaders want. How these national leaders act is a key feature in how society will act being that they are supposed to follow suit to these norms.

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