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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: Now Who Calls the Shots?
Author:Fraser, Alastair
Periodical:Review of African Political Economy
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:popular participation
foreign intervention
World Bank
economic policy
development cooperation
Economics and Trade
Politics and Government
Abstract:This paper argues that Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) can be understood as a technology of 'social control', which seeks to shape domestic political space. Despite widespread recognition that the World Bank and the IMF continue to impose orthodox policy conditions on debt relief and loans to African countries, many suggest the requirement in PRSPs for civil society 'participation' introduces a progressive element that could, in time, subvert the logic of coercion. In contrast, this paper suggests that it is precisely through participation that international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and bilateral donors are working with the international financial institutions (IFIs) to secure ever more intimate supervision of African political communities. Thus, if the answer to Joseph Hanlon's (1991) rhetorical question 'who calls the shots?' under structural adjustment was 'the IFIs', the answer under PRSPs is 'an uneasy coalition of NGOs, donors and the IFIs'. These groups share an agenda of securing consent to liberal systems of political and economic management. Through the PRSPs and related processes they divide the labour required to manufacture consent, seeking to build 'reform coalitions' by transforming the objectives and nature of States, bureaucracies, social and political movements and, at their most ambitious, populations. In the process they imperil African sovereignty, self-determination and hopes for substantive democracy. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]