Plenary 2: Tackling Inequality through ‘Responsible Development’

Wednesday, 25 June 2014, 9am

The current poverty statistics highlight a shift in poverty from lower-income countries (LICs) to middle-income countries (MICs) with contested future trends. The concentration of poverty in fragile states is expected to intensify in the future. As the global scenery evolves towards a multilateral architecture with new and stronger voices from the developing world such as the ‘new’ middle class, addressing chronic and systemic causes of inequalities remains a significant challenge. This picture points out the need for a type of development that is not only inclusive of all actors but also seeks to explore how these ‘stronger voices’ will ‘responsibly’ influence patterns of growth and development.

Few studies have shed light on how emerging groups of successful entrepreneurs and civil servants are important to a society not only for employment creation but also a potential trigger of political change and democracy. Another important strand in the literature challenges these implicit progressive assumptions about the behaviour of the new middle class citizens and instead emphasizes a possible class struggle. These scholars perceive the new middle class as being a relatively conservative political force striving to distance itself as much as possible from ‘the poor’ both physically and ideologically. This plenary, will investigate how the emerging middle class groups will change the policy environment in tackling inequality; the new forms of development cooperation; how they will mobilize and for what reasons; the role education will play in stimulating social change through instilling of values and knowledge for citizens to strive for social justice and ‘responsible development’.