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Analysing social policy concepts and languageComparative and Transnational Perspectives$
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Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306443

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306443.001.0001

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The discursive power of international organisations

The discursive power of international organisations

social policy language and concepts in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

(p.101) FIVE The discursive power of international organisations
Analysing social policy concepts and language

Antje Vetterlein

Policy Press

This chapter traces the social policy language and concepts in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank from the 1970s onwards, when both organizations began to deal with issues of poverty and social policy in developing countries. The chapter shows how the language of development has changed, and thus, the role social policies play therein, identifying a shift from an understanding of social policy as social welfare (1970s) to social protection (1980/90s), and finally, to social development (2000s). However, while there has been a change in the language of development over time, the underlying meaning has remained rather stable. The econocentric orientation of both organizations has led to half-hearted outcomes that might not be sustainable in the long run. In this way, the chapter offers a critical assessment of the impact of different social policy concepts and framings in the broader development discourse. While the development language and social policy concepts used in the 1970s turned people in developing countries into a development category and thus depicted them as victims needing assistance, today’s language of ownership and participatory development tends to shift responsibility to the respective actors themselves.

Keywords:   International Monetary Fund, World Bank, language of development, social policy, development discourse

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