Introduction to a symposium on development implementation: discipline, deception, and the relational work of development

Rebecca Amanda Warne Peters, Jessica M. Mulligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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This article introduces a symposium of three ethnographic papers on the relational work of policy implementation in the context of international development. Relational work is usually unrecognized in the policy process, creating misunderstandings and barriers as well as promoting improvisation and innovation. Implementers in the cases presented–democracy promotion in Angola, rural livelihoods in India, and birth registration in Tanzania–use interpretive labor and sometimes deceit in order to carry out the creative and interpersonal work of development. Implementers often further local development goals, but ignore and subvert the disciplinary aims of development governance that seek to remake their economic, political, and social habits. These articles identify that it is the social work of forging and managing interpersonal relationships that allows development workers and intended beneficiaries to make policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCritical Policy Studies
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • anthropology of policy
  • Development
  • ethnography
  • policy implementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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