The New Tyranny?

Edited by Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari


This study shows how particpatory development can lead to the unjust and illegitimate exercise of power.
This book is about participatory development's potential for tyranny, showing how it can lead to the unjust and illegitimate exercise of power. It is the first book-length treatment to address the gulf between the almost universally fashionable rhetoric of participation, which promises empowerment and appropriate development, and what actually happens when consultants and activists promote and practise participatory development.

The contributors, all social scientists and development specialists, come from a wide variety of disciplines. Their aim is to provide a sharp contrast to the seductive claims of participation, and to warn its advocates of the pitfalls and limitations of participatory development. The book also challenges participatory practitioners and theorists to reassess their own role in promoting a set of practices which are at best naive about questions of power, and at worst serve systematically to reinforce, rather than overthrow, existing inequalities.

This rigorous and provocative understanding of participatory development is one which donors, academics and practitioners will find hard to ignore.

Author Bio

Uma Kothari is a development consultant, now teaching at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester. She has conducted research in various parts of the world, including India, Central America and parts of West Africa.She is currently co-director of a DfID-funded project, Social Development: Systems for Coordinated Poverty Eradication. She has contributed chapters to various books in recent years.

Bill Cooke lectures in the Human Resources Development at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester. He specialises in various aspects of management, having begun his career as a management consultant in the public sector in Britain. He subsequently set up his own consultancy business, and became a business school academic in 1992.

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Case for Participation as Tyranny - Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari
  • 2. 'People's Knowledge', Participation and Patronage: Operations and Representations in Rural Development - David Mosse
  • 3. Institutions, Agency and the Limitations of Participatory Approaches to Development - Frances Cleaver
  • 4. Pluralism, Participation and Power: Joint Forest Management in India - Nicholas Hildyard, Pandurang Hegde, Paul Wolvekamp, Somasekhare Reddy
  • 5. Participatory Development at the World Bank: The Primacy of Process - Paul Francis
  • 6. Beyond the Formulaic: Process and Practice in South Asian NGOs - John Hailey
  • 7. The Social-Psychological Limits of Participation? - Bill Cooke
  • 8. Insights into Participation from Critical Management and Labour Process Perspectives - Harry Taylor
  • 9. Participatory Development: Power, Knowledge and Social Control - Uma Kothari
  • 10. Beyond Participation: Strategies for Deeper Empowerment - Giles Mohan
  • 11. Participation as Spiritual Duty: Empowerment as Secular Subjection - Heiko Henkel and Roderick Stirrat
  • Bibliography


'A timely critique of the participation discourse and expose of the seductive arts of official incorporation. Essential reading for all those studying and practising international development as well as social policy nearer home.'
Geoff Wood, University of Bath

'Unmasks the moral tyranny imposed through the language of participation which has come to dominate the discourse. It makes a vital contribution to the sociology of development.'
Gavin Williams, University of Oxford


Publication Date: 23 February 2001
224 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781856497947
Library Edition: 9781856497930

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