Contesting Markets: Analyses of Ideology, Discourse and Practice

By Roy Dilly | Go to book overview
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'Good Government' and 'the Market' 1


On 6 June 1990 the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Douglas Hurd, gave a speech at the Overseas Development Institute. Its theme was 'good government' and the necessity for aid donors in general and the ODA (the Overseas Development Administration -- the aid wing of the British Foreign Office) in particular to support 'good government' in the developing world, and it has begun to be seen as marking a major shift in British government aid policy. Yet the nature of 'good government' was never made precisely clear, and the linkage between good government and a set of other concepts which appear to be central to the proposed future direction of British aid policy remained obscure. What I want to do in this chapter is discuss in a preliminary fashion some aspects of the content of Hurd's speech. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between 'the market' and 'good government' in official thought about development policy, for much of what Hurd had to say was concerned with the relationship between 'government' and 'the market'. In part this is an academic matter, but there is much more to it than that. In the design of development projects, one of the main forms that development interventions take, there is frequent recourse to terms such as 'market forces', 'transparency of the market', 'accountability', 'empowerment' and so on, concepts derived from policy statements such as Hurd's speech. Yet what precisely these terms mean, what implications they have and their relation to wider political positions is often unclear. Indeed the very ambiguity of these concepts is a central theme which for all it may encourage and allow a certain amount of subversive activity, prevents rather than encourages debate about development strategy and the nature of development interventions.


The conference at which Hurd delivered his speech was concerned with the prospects for Africa in the 1990s, and thus most of what Hurd had to say focused on Africa. Whilst acknowledging that there has been some 'progress' in the last thirty years, he contrasted Africa with the success of countries in South-east Asia and the Pacific rim. Hurd claimed that the reason for this difference in performance was in large part a result of the differences in the nature of governments and policies followed by


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Contesting Markets: Analyses of Ideology, Discourse and Practice
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