Spring 2019: Professor Bettina Bock 

Professor Bettina Bock 

Inclusive Rural Development in Times of Urbanization

Since 2009 the urban population has outnumbered the population living in rural areas. The situation differs considerably between high and low-income countries, with about 80% of the population residing in urban areas in the former compared to 30% in the latter. Yet the tendency is crystal clear – the world is urbanizing rapidly. Urbanization is generally perceived as a sign of modernization and, in turn, development and economic growth. At the same time there is concern about its effect on rural areas and their residents and anxiety that urbanization concurs with a continuous rural decline, impoverishment and social exclusion of rural residents, and rural abandonment. More insight into the interrelation between urbanization and rural development and the preconditions for realizing inclusive rural development is, hence, of crucial importance.

This course looks into the impact of urbanization on rural areas and the processes of social and spatial differentiation that go along with it. It focuses on the presence and the construction of peripheral places in times of mobilization and globalization that change the significance of the geographical location. The course is built up around four core questions: (1) How do current trends of urbanisation affect rural areas? (2) What does marginalization mean for rural residents and how does marginalization interact with social exclusion? (3) How can we explain the marginalization of rural areas in times of globalization and mobilization? (4) What can be done to counteract marginalization and promote inclusive rural development?

The course will provide knowledge and comprehension of the features of rural differentiation in various parts of the world and their impact on the daily life of their residents. Students will learn how to examine rural change and how to use novel theoretical approaches for analyzing processes of marginalization. This will allow them to identify the main drivers and agents of marginalization and their effects on residents’ sense of belonging and affective engagement. Integrating the different drivers and effects of marginalization will enable them to examine varying approaches to rural development, to evaluate rural development policies and to design alternatives. 

Spring 2018 - Professor Michael Löwy - Nature, Modernity, and Social Theory: the challenge of the Anthropocene

DSOC 6940

Abstract: The planet is said to be entering a new geological era, the Anthropocene, where the pattern of human social reproduction is seriously threatening the natural environment and provoking dramatic climate change. Classical social theorists from Karl Marx to Max Weber were not unaware of the changing nexus between society and nature, but it did not occupy a central place in their theories.  This course will explore the ecological turn in social theory via critical readings of both classical and contemporary social theory.

Video spotlight

Spring 2017: Professor James Fairhead and Professor Nigel Eltringham (University of Sussex) - Representational Controversies in International Development in Africa

Professor James Fairhead

Professor Nigel Eltringham

The relationship between power and the production of knowledge concerning development problems has been a preoccupation in international development at least since the postcolonial literatures of the 1980 and 1990s (Escobar, Ferguson, Sachs) inspired by the wider critiques by Foucault, Said and in Africa, Mudimbe’s ‘The Invention of Africa’ .  These works problematized the production and prioritization of development problems and agendas in Africa. The question arises: what has changed? In this course we examine cases relating to international development in Africa through which the nature of development problems is contested in the domains of environment, health, and conflict to probe current Power/Knowledge configurations, reflecting also on how globalized popular media (film and literature) have become part of this.