While global problems of poverty, inequality, and social upheaval are on the increase, the language used by development agencies and development experts sounds increasingly radical and idealistic. New socio-political conditions have been borrowed from real contexts in the South, only to be re-imposed on Southern `partners’. Notions like empowerment, participation, and governance are paradoxically enforced through top-down, external intervention. Hans Christian Andersen’s parable of the Emperor’s new clothes highlights the illusory nature of this re-packaging of development policies in the 1990s. One major difficulty is that micro- and meso-level socio-political conditionality’s remain subordinated to macro-level economic liberalisation.
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