Participatory development is the embodiment of an approach that emphasizes a 'people centered' version of development, which ultimately aims to empower the people - so frequently portrayed as the 'objects' of development- to control their own development and the means by which it is to be achieved. This thesis examines the representation of the participation paradigm as per the discourse of that most important of development institutions- the World Bank- and provides an assessment of the latter's incorporation of participation in its activities.

This thesis essentially deals with a development paradigm that has gained significant ground in recent years, so much so that it has become a frequent buzzword amongst many aid agencies as well as the development community at large. The choice of the World Bank as the 'arena' in which the adoption of participation is to be assessed stems from the Bank's privileged position in the field of development, derived from its formidable financial and intellectual resources, which additionally enable it to exercise considerable leverage over the domestic policy choices of borrowing countries.

The results of tis study show that the version of participatory development the Bank adopted was one that was tailored to git the neutral and technical nature of its discourse. Similarly, the incorporation of participation in the Bank's activities belies a conception of the former as a neutral exercise, where 'politics' was systematically downplayed and even ignored. Required reforms for a 'better' implementation of participatory development by the Bank are nothing short of a radical overhaul; in the meantime, in today's Bank, is unfortunately hostage to the latter's tradition of economism and obligation of political neutrality.


Political Science Department

Degree Name

MA in Political Science

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Trevor Partfitt

Committee Member 1

Ivan Ivekovic

Committee Member 2

Mustapha Al Sayyid

Document Type



110 leaves


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Call Number

Thesis 2005/13