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My Paradigm or Yours? Alternative Development, Post-Development, Re¯exive Development Jan Nederveen Pieterse
ABSTRACT
Alternative development has been concerned with alternative practices of development Ð participatory and people-centred Ð and with rede®ning the goals of development. Mainstream development has gradually been moving away from the preoccupation with economic growth toward a people-centred de®nition of development, for instance in human development. This raises the question in what way alternative development remains distinguishable from mainstream development Ð as a roving criticism, a development style, a pro®le of alternative positions regarding development agency, methodology, epistemology? Increasingly the claim is that alternative development represents an alternative paradigm. This is a problematic idea for four reasons: because whether paradigms apply to social science is questionable; because in development the concern is with policy frameworks rather than explanatory frameworks; because there are di€erent views on whether a paradigm break with conventional development is desirable; and ®nally because the actual divergence in approaches to development is in some respects narrowing. There is a meaningful alternative development pro®le or package but there is no alternative development paradigm Ð nor should there be. Mainstream development is not what it used to be and it may be argued that the key question is rather whether growth and production are considered within or outside the people-centred development approach and whether this can rhyme with the structural adjustment programmes followed by the international ®nancial institutions. Post-development may be interpreted as a neotraditionalist reaction against modernity. More enabling as a perspective is re¯exive development, in which a critique of science is viewed as part of development politics.

Human nature being what it is, while everyone likes to be a social engineer, few like to...