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9 - Postscript: development ethics and the ethics of critique

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Stuart Corbridge
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
Glyn Williams
Affiliation:
Keele University
Manoj Srivastava
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
René Véron
Affiliation:
University of Guelph, Ontario
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Summary

James Ferguson ends his account of The Anti-Politics Machine with a useful and very honest Epilogue which addresses the question ‘What is to be done?’ In the course of his discussion he makes a number of points that we find helpful. In particular, he warns against a form of romanticism that would turn the fieldworker into a hero or social activist. The truth is that most of us should not expect to make a difference. Social change is most often made slowly and in a non-linear fashion by the men and women who become the subjects of social science. Ferguson quotes Foucault to bolster this argument. ‘As Foucault remarked of the prisons, when the system is transformed, “it won't be because a plan of reform has found its way into the heads of the social workers; it will be when those who have to do with that … reality, all those people, have come into collision with each other and with themselves, run into dead-ends, problems and impossibilities, been through conflicts and confrontations; when critique has been played out in the real, not when reformers have realized their ideas”’ (Foucault 1981: 13, quoted in Ferguson 1990: 281). This view is largely consistent with the arguments we have developed here, although we would want to signal more clearly than Foucault the role that directed change can make, particularly when it is being pressed by the wealthy and the powerful.

Type
Chapter
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Seeing the State
Governance and Governmentality in India
, pp. 265 - 274
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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