How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs
The Implications of Socially Constructed Development
This chapter reflects on the implications of an agent-based approach for how we study and pursue development in the global south. It demonstrates that rather than viewing development as a northern intervention into the passive global south, we should instead see it as a set of relationships being worked out in a particular terrain that is characterized by inherent tensions and navigated by people using different conceptual and experiential “maps.” Researchers and practitioners should expect and learn from gaps between policy, practice, and outcomes as the inevitable result of human agency and interaction. Rather than asking if development is successful or unsuccessful, we should ask what kinds of agency development relationships constrain and what kinds of agency they enable. The chapter concludes that projects thrive because of (not in spite of) their tensions, as they allow people (developers and beneficiaries) to assign multiple meanings and goals to development projects.