The Politics of Development


The group is made up of DPP members and other OU colleagues who work at the interface of politics and international development. We examine multiple ways of researching political ideas, policies and actions.




Project design:

Our work is both analytical and normative. The theoretical underpinnings of the group are rooted (not exclusively) in the tradition of critical social and political thought. As Cox (1981:129) emphasizes, this tradition “… does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted but calls them into question by concerning itself with the origins and how and whether they might be in the process of changing”. Within this broad and cross-cutting agenda we focus on:

  • The relationship between development actors, institutions and dynamics of change at the level of political ideas is researched by Papaioannou, Yanacopulos, Mohan and Hanlon. Their work focuses on global justice, cosmopolitanism and politics of development as well as on transnational networks, states and power.
  • At the level of policies, Levidow, Farrelly, Robbins, Huzair, Mugwagwa, Yanacopulos, Johnson, Wilson and Papaioannou focus on the interaction between governance and government and civil society.
  • At the level of actions, research focus is mainly on social movements, participation, conflict and cooperation. This is reflected in the work of Mohan, Johnson, Yanacopulos and Hanlon. 




Project outcomes or activities:

  • Les Levidow, Michael Farrelly and Theo Papaioannou have an ESRC project on the policy process surrounding bioenergy (
  • Helen Yanacopulos works on the construction and representation of International Development and is part of a team working on the pubic perceptions of emerging country donors ( and she is the series editor for the Zed Books series ‘Development Matters’ (
  •  Julius Mugwagwa is a Leverhulme Research Fellow examining Crossnational Technology Regulation in Africa



  • Commodities ProgrammeThe disruptive entry of China into the global economy, with its thirst for minerals and energy and its prowess in manufacturing, has had a major impact on the terms of trade. India’s impending entry is likely to exacerbate this shift in relative prices.