chapter  1
30 Pages

Development Narratives and Six Ways to Change Them

ByEmery Roe

Rural development is a genuinely complex activity, and one of the principal ways practitioners, bureaucrats, policymakers, and other decision makers articulate and make sense of this uncertainty is to tell scenarios and formulate arguments that simplify or complexify that reality. The failure of projects and programs based on development narratives often serves only to reinforce, lessen, the appeal of some sort of narrative that explains and addresses the persisting, increasing, uncertainty. One could create a counternarrative; or use the development initiatives generated by the narrative to alter that narrative. The more general point is that because rural development is truly an uncertain enterprise and has been for a very long time, it is always a fairly easy matter to denarrativize development scenarios simply by pointing out their factual shortcomings. Like development narratives discussed throughout Except-Africa, this one helps to underwrite and stabilize the assumptions for decision making.