Global civil society agency within the New Aid Architecture
: a Neo-Gramscian approach

  • Arianna Mazzieri

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Arts by Research


    In the last decade, the development cooperation system entered into a transitional phase, moving from ‘aid effectiveness’ towards a ‘development effectiveness’ paradigm. This paradigm shift found expression in the launch of a new aid governance system in 2012, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC). At the same time, a multitude of civil society organisations (CSOs) worldwide gathered together and founded the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) with the aim of effectively engaging with the GPEDC in its work.

    This research explores the actions of the CPDE within the context of the GPEDC, seeking to understand how likely it is for the CPDE to successfully implement its vision of development in the given framework. In doing so, the research borrows the neo-Gramscian categories of hegemony and counter-hegemony from international relations and applies those within the field of development co-operation. Accordingly, the GPEDC can be envisaged as a direct emanation of a hegemonic neo-liberal order. In contrast, the CPDE has been critical of the hegemonic neo-liberal system and has been advocating for an alternative agenda for development, with social justice and a human rights-based approach at its core. By adopting a neo-Gramscian perspective, the research aims at understanding to what extent the CPDE is acting as a hegemonic or a counter-hegemonic actor within the GPEDC. Here, the action of the CPDE within the GPEDC framework was investigated as a unique case study, for both the CPDE and the GPEDC are new entities marking a fracture with the previous modus operandi and have not yet been methodically researched.

    The analysis of the CPDE action within the GPEDC found that counter-hegemonic features are more substantial and significant than the hegemonic features, and thus it is argued that the CPDE has the potential to act as a counter-hegemonic force. Indeed, the CPDE has been successful in building collective acts of resistance to counter the neoliberal drift within the GPEDC, carrying out a steady war of position right at the heart of the new governance system.

    The increasingly complex development landscape has most recently brought the question of effectiveness back to public attention with the launch of the new Agenda 2030. Within this context, this study contributes to the understanding of emerging geometries of power on a mutating international stage. Furthermore, this study provides an occasion to discuss the crucial question of agency within a global neo-liberal order, with special focus on discerning potential counter-hegemonic forces and effective praxes to bring about alternative societal models.
    Date of AwardMay 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorGordon Crawford (Supervisor), Jessica Northey (Supervisor) & Miho Taka (Supervisor)

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