By Dawn Chatty & Sarah Wahby
A young Syrian woman took centre stage in a recent Refugee Studies Centre workshop in Jordan, eloquently describing her determination to continue to study to become a doctor. Through the help of an innovative refugee training programme in Amman she was on her way.
Yet her case is not the norm; supply of education, vocational training, apprenticeship schemes and psychosocial support for young refugees from Syria is severely lacking. Local and international efforts are failing to meet the needs and educational aspirations of Syria’s young population. Continue reading
By Frances Stewart
Country ‘ownership’ is critical if goals are to be vigorously pursued by governments and civil society. There are many ways to interpret ‘ownership’ – at one extreme it seems to mean that goals and programmes are designed by the IMF or World Bank and then agreed by governments, who act with the understanding that funds will not be forthcoming unless they agree. At the other extreme, ‘ownership’ can be defined to occur only if the governments themselves, in collaboration with their own people, determine the goals. 
I believe the latter type of ownership is essential if there is to be full commitment to the achievement of the goals at the country level.
By Xiaolan Fu and Giacomo Zanello
“I survive because I innovate” – food processing entrepreneur of an informal firm (Accra, Ghana)
The term ‘innovation’ is often associated with patents or ground-breaking discoveries. These are the results of costly, risky and lengthy processes that require intense knowledge and capital investment to create something ‘new’. Because of this, most patent registrations and ground-breaking innovations are linked with specific forms of science and research capacity, and concentrated in a small number of firms in a few rich countries.
This view of the world might suggest that innovation is not relevant and firms are hardly innovative in low-income countries (LICs), where skills and capital constraints are prevalent. But the results of a survey we carried out, in which we collected case studies and data from more than 500 formal and informal firms in Ghana, show a very different picture.
“You know, didi (sister), you come here and you talk to us and we talk to you and together we just enjoy” (Interview, 28 August 2014).
My fieldwork this summer took me to Kolkata, India, where I spent 10 weeks in three of the city’s Red Light Areas (RLAs). The focus of my research was on collective identities within the RLAs, and I wanted to explore under what circumstances one particular self-image (such as belonging to a group of ‘sex workers’) became salient.
I thus started off asking the questions: ‘To what extent does the use of social categories affect trust and cooperation in Kolkata’s RLAs?’, ‘What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for some collection of individuals to feel themselves to be in a group and act accordingly?’ and, ‘Does a socially complex reality (stratified, socially heterogeneous, mobile) hinder group formation?’. But while the first year at ODID was spent thinking and developing (re-thinking, re-developing..) these ideas and plans for the field, I think it’s impossible to fully imagine the experience that fieldwork is – I surely didn’t. Continue reading
By Hein de Haas
The current attempts by UK politicians to outbid each other in being ‘tough’ on immigration reminds me of the comment by the well-known migration researcher Douglas Massey and his co-authors that politicians increasingly have turned to symbolic measures to create “an appearance of control”*.
The reality is that most immigration to the UK is basically uncontrollable since the majority of immigrants coming to the UK are EU citizens or family members of residence permit holders. Little can be done about this, and this is also why David Cameron’s earlier pledge to bring annual net immigration down under the 100,000 threshold has proven to be unrealistic. The only hope of that happening is a major economic crisis in the UK, since the main driver of much immigration is labour demand. And this also shows the fundamental dilemma politicians face: wealthy countries and fast growing economies inevitably attract substantial number of immigrants, although this is anything but an invasion suggested by politicians and the media. Continue reading
By Cynthia Orchard
There are now nearly 3 million registered refugees from Syria. About 96 per cent of them live in five countries neighbouring Syria – Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Many refugees in those countries live in appalling conditions, without adequate food, water, shelter, healthcare, or other basic necessities of life, and many also face abuse of various types. Some groups, such as Palestinians, face particularly dire circumstances, including being prohibited from entering some countries in the region.
Despite the conditions in these receiving countries, it is laudable that they have opened their borders to many more Syrian refugees than have entered European or other countries. To put this in perspective, each of the neighbouring countries individually hosts more refugees from Syria than all of Europe combined, and refugees from Syria now constitute nearly a quarter of the population of Lebanon.
Only about 4 per cent (123,000) of the refugees from Syria have entered Europe. Most of them had to enter without permission, many risking their lives to do so, because there are very few places offered for legal entry. By mid-2014, European countries, apart from Germany, had agreed to admit only about 6,000 refugees from Syria through resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes. Continue reading
By Sabina Alkire
Saturday the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) closed our ninth two-week intensive summer school on multidimensional poverty. OPHI have run one summer school every summer since 2008 – in India, Peru, Netherlands, Jordan, Indonesia, USA, Chile, Nicaragua, and now Oxford, UK. Some 64 participants completed the course, coming from 34 countries, and 31 participants were women. Eleven more from OPHI (7 women) led the teaching and exercises. Continue reading
By Hein de Haas
Migration is a hotly debated but poorly understood issue. Much conventional thinking about migration is based on myths rather than facts. Migration policies often fail because they are based on those same myths. It is therefore time that we learn to see migration as an intrinsic and therefore inevitable part of the broader processes of societal change and globalisation instead of a ‘problem to be solved’. Continue reading
By Khalid Nadvi
A recent special issue of Oxford Development Studies that I guest edited explores how new players from the Rising Powers (most notably China, Brazil and India) may challenge the global ‘rules of the game’ on social and environmental issues. In my introductory article to the issue, I considered what makes the Rising Powers special and in what ways they will affect global labour and environmental standards. Continue reading
Teaching and practising international development is complicated when some methods are seen as hard sciences and others as schools of thought.
By Oliver Owen
A few weeks ago, Nobel Prize-winning economics Professor Paul Krugman delivered a lecture in Oxford entitled ‘stagnation: the new normal’. At the end, a student asked if Professor Krugman supported last year’s call by the Manchester-based Post-Crash Economics Society for university economics teaching to be reformed, to diversify beyond conventional approaches whose erratic assumptions they blame for leading the world into financial crisis. Professor Krugman’s answer was hugely illuminating for those of us who are not economists. He advocated caution, pointing to the basic serviceability of the discipline, and said he would in general not support a move to teaching through a ‘schools of thought’ approach. I was shocked; not by his opinion but because until he said that I genuinely had no idea that there were any disciplines in social science which aren’t taught through a ‘schools of thought’ approach – i.e. one which presents different methods of enquiry and interpretation and asks students to evaluate them as they also learn to employ them. Continue reading