Exploring possibilities for a pragmatic orientation in development studies 
in The power of pragmatism
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Development studies and related practice have been structured by a duality that can be characterised as ‘big D’ and ‘little d’ development (or the dominant discourse and counter-discourses of development). Neither side has adopted pragmatism in any significant way despite the extent to which it can bring important insights to bear, and in this chapter we highlight the value of pragmatism’s (1) non-relativist anti-foundationalism, (2) dynamic and process-oriented approach to social reality, (3) experimentationalism for progress, and (4) deep, creative and radical democracy. We explore the relevance of these principles in providing new directions for development studies. Building on participatory, popular and indigenous ideas about development, we advocate a pragmatic approach to development, considering spaces of transaction, emergence and learning, and an orientation towards practice, deep democracy and social hope. We draw on a number of Iranian examples to illustrate our argument about the epistemological, ontological, practical and political relevance of the philosophy of pragmatism for development studies and practice.

The power of pragmatism

Knowledge production and social inquiry

Editors: Jane Wills and Robert W. Lake

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