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The North Atlantic development establishment has had a blemished track record over the past 65 years. In addition to a sizeable portfolio of failure, the few economic success stories in the developing world, such as South Korea and China, have been achieved by rejecting the advice of Western experts. Despite these realities, debates within mainstream development studies have stagnated around a narrow, acultural emphasis on institutions or the size and role of government.
Cultures of Development uses a contrapuntal comparison of Vietnam and Brazil to show why it is important for development scholars and practitioners to broaden their conceptualization of economies to include the socio-cultural. This smartly written book based on original, ethnographic research breathes new life into development studies by bringing cultural studies into conversation with development studies, with an emphasis on improving—rather than merely critiquing—market economies. The applied deployment of critical development studies, i.e., interpretive economics, results in a number of theoretical advances in both development and areas studies, demonstrating the economic importance of certain kinds of cultural work carried out by religious leaders, artists, activists, and educators. Most importantly, the reader comes to fully appreciate how economies are embedded within the subjectivities, discourses, symbols, rituals, norms, and values of a given society.
This pioneering book revives development practice and policy by offering fresh insights and ideas about how development can be advanced. It will be of special interest to scholars and students of Development Studies, Sociology, Economics, Anthropology, and Area Studies.