Introducing DLP's new Concept Briefs
There is a growing recognition that effective governance for development is not simply a technical or managerial matter, but is also decisively shaped by political processes. This recognition has introduced new concepts into the language of the general aid and development discourse. These include, for example, 'the state' and government, institutions and organizations, collective action problems, coalitions, power, authority and legitimacy (Concept Brief 02). There are also other wider processes, such as 'political settlements' (Concept Brief 01), 'leadership', and the very idea of 'politics' itself, that require clarification and consistent use.
For specialists and those with a sound training in political science, these may be familiar and easy to deal with. But for those without such training, or newcomers to the field, they may not be: indeed, the evidence is that many struggle to comprehend and apply them.
Concepts are essential tools for thought and analysis. Without them we are simply unable to recognise and make sense of processes, practices and phenomena in different real world contexts: for example, the difference between 'authority' and 'power'. Concepts (and wider theories that use them) act as lenses that enable us to 'read' and interpret what's going on.
The purpose of our series of short Concept Briefs is to provide concise introductions to some of the key concepts that are now commonly used in analysing the politics of governance in developing countries.
The series will act as a useful point of reference for all those involved in the political analysis of national, sub-national, sectoral and issue areas for policy and operational purposes. Using these 'tools for thought' will help to identify the political processes that underpin all forms of governance. This in turn will help to determine where, when and how it may be possible (or not) to support the emergence and consolidation of political processes that give rise to developmental rather than predatory forms of governance.