Strategies Against Poverty – Designs from the North & Alternatives from the South

The CLACSO-CROP programme and the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) with the collaboration of the CLACSO South-South Program and the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS), held the international workshop “Strategies against poverty: designs from the North and alternatives from the South”, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from February 4-6, 2009.

The objective of the workshop was to bring about a comparative, critical and multidisciplinary understanding of the theoretical frameworks and practices which were/are put forward as solutions to poverty in the South.

Over the last decades countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have undergone a conceptual reorientation of social policies followed by dramatic changes in institutional mechanisms traditionally linked to social policies.
At large, these processes have been imposed by multilateral agencies from the North, pushing a structural adjustment agenda when addressing the complex relationship between state, market and society with respect to poverty reduction. The neoliberal agenda provided countries in the South with several sets of standardized policy recommendations which ended up becoming the customary wisdom for politicians and bureaucrats alike. However, regardless of this ideological reorientation, poverty is still an endless feature of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries that has been even aggravated in many cases.

The neoliberal dominance in policy making processes in the South has been promoted by the multilateral agencies and other means of international cooperation through several instruments. Amongst them were conditionalities encouraging privatization and liberalization, which have been an important element in international financial institutions policy toward states in the South. A study from 2006 argues that such conditions are less common than before, but they are still included as important elements both in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) loans. As a part of new roles for market promoted by international organizations and dominant ideology, the state was challenged as a tool for development. Withdrawal of the state in social and economic life was encouraged, without taking into consideration the existing reality in most of the South characterized by an enormous social inequality and poverty that threatens life, freedom and good quality existence. Nevertheless, these neoliberal policies -and their failed results- in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are being challenged due to their politically and biased motives and characteristics.

A new discussion about viable pro-poor policies, when the relation between state, market and society is being changed (i.e. the removal of the state as a crucial actor on the social policy arena), is now taking place in the South. Scholars, social movements, activists and even some governments in the South are now actively seeking to overcome the dominant neoliberal view and they are putting the poor at the centre of social policy preoccupations. This paradigmatic shift can be seen both in practices, strategies and theoretical approaches that are emerging from the South.

As a contribution to accelerate, and strengthen, this paradigmatic change, we invite scholars from different disciplines to contribute with multidisciplinary and critical papers on the theme. Learn More

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