Social aspects of WB analysis under scrutiny

15 January 1998

A lead article in Development Anthropologist contains a fascinating account of the World Bank’s approach to social issues. The article, by Michael Horowitz, Professor of Anthropology at Birhampton University, discusses the Social Development Task Force and the Bank’s internal culture. Horowitz concludes that social scientists in the Bank tend to marginalise themselves by working on fringe issues, leaving major ones to economists and technical specialists. Examples include a poverty strategy for Mauritania (where slavery, a central aspect of poverty, was not mentioned so as not to offend the country’s ruling elite), and an indigenous peoples’ strategy for Pakistan. He warns of the danger of ignoring “the structure of power and wealth which controls access to resources”.

See Development Anthropologist, Vol 14, Nos 1 and 2.