What is it about?

This highly critical, yet constructive, volume addresses the World Bank from a social science point of view. It represents a systematic and critical analysis of the role of the World Bank in aid and development cooperation. The emphasis is on the Bank's professed aim of aiding the poor. In addressing this, Payer discusses the Bank's philosophy of development, its policy and operations, and the concrete effects of its projects. Payer concludes that the Bank's policy coincides remarkably well with US economic interests. As for the poverty orientation, it is argued that the Bank does not only fail in helping the poor, but actively assist in appropriating their basic resources.

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Why is it important?

This volume was likely the very first outside critique of the World Bank's operation from the point of view of the social sciences. What it found (and it was apparently not an easy task to research and get access) shows that it was a necessary first contribution.


I wrote this brief review after discussing with the author, who at the time was as guest researcher at the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) in Oslo, where I was working as a graduate student in sociology. Little did I know that 10 years later I would myself work for the World Bank in Washington DC. Becoming an insider I learnt that things looked somewhat different. There were reasons and explanations for why the record was so dismal during the 70s and early 80s. When I worked there during the 90s the role and import of the social sciences, including anthropology, my own discipline, had grown by leaps and bounds, and the situation was changing fast.

Mr Lars T Soeftestad
Supras Ltd.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Book Nates, Journal of Peace Research, December 1982, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/002234338201900407.
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