My research question has to do with the concept of the Benevolent West. I would like to consider a narrative analysis of this idea and how this notion allows the West to dominate IFI activity with respect to loan taking countries, specifically in the periphery. The time frame I would focus the research on would be sometime after the entrance of neoliberal reforms and the Washington Consensus to now.
First, I would have to define the West and which countries really fit into that role. Perhaps it is better to refer to them as Core or Powerful states, which also would have to be defined. Second, I would need to talk about how the relationship of benevolence between powerful (western) states and less powerful states has evolved or been perceived over time. Concepts of Development, foreign aid, dependency and moral rightness could be discussed to frame the notion of benevolence for the purpose of this paper.
Then, I would discuss how this power position and the notion of rightness or benevolence has played a part in powerful states acceptance of this role and their place as doling out policy demands and advice with regard to less powerful state’s development. I see this doling out of policy and demands coming through IFI lending practices and specifically would look at the IMF and the World Bank. I would like to look at a third, perhaps one of the Latin American alternative IFIs. I could contrast the narrative that we see their with regard to the role of the west.
Finally, I would link this influence to lending and development policy to show that powerful states have undue influence with regard to development practices in less powerful states and it is precisely because they are perceived as right and even that they are doing the morally right thing, or benevolent thing. Because of this perception powerful states and IFI lending policies go unchecked and unquestioned by the general public within those powerful states and the powerful states themselves.
Perhaps I could look into a text analysis approach with regard to comparing mission statements, public memos regarding the status of developing countries and the reasoning behind SAPs and IMF or WB policy choices. I would like to look at key political figures during the time of the SAPs and neoliberalist reforms such as Reagan or Thatcher and see how they framed these reform choices in their political or public addresses, if at all.
I would have to do some key word searching to find out if there were terms used to typify the relationship between the US/UK and IFIs as well as loan taking states.
Questions I hope to answer/flesh out using this methodology:
Does the language perpetuate a concept of benevolence from the western states? Is it condescending? How are the loan taking states talked about? As less informed, less able to come up with appropriate development strategy? Is there discussion of countering socialist democratic development strategies? In what way is it framed?
All of these questions and rhetoric analysis, along with journals regarding similar ideas about the relationship between the West/Core and Periphery countries would help to frame the argument of how the West is perceived and how its role and action with regard to periphery or less powerful countries is perceived and in large part accepted. This acceptance leads to continued policies that disregard periphery countries and tout Core and Western countries as all-knowing and benevolent givers of solutions for development.
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