This panel discussion session explores some of the central dimensions of the Crisis in the Anthropocene that constitute global social challenges in the context of development studies. The conference theme highlighted the profound human impact on our blue-green-brown planet, that is already breaching planetary boundaries and pushing us beyond the roughly 1.5°C tipping point. This threatens liveability and sustainability in many localities and regions and may well rapidly be ‘off the scale’ of imaginability and survivability. Inevitably, as mounting empirical evidence and increasingly clear projections by the IPCC and other authoritative bodies show, these impacts are unevenly spread, both socially and spatially, both now and over the coming decades. The urgency of appropriate action is undeniable and we already know many dimensions of the required adaptations and transformations. Yet progress mostly remains too slow. These challenges are vital to the development studies community – heterogenous as it is – with our concerns for tackling poverty, inequality, deprivation and environmental degradation globally and locally.
Hence this symposium asks what the crisis means for development theory, policy and practice and what development studies can and should be contributing to – and, indeed, whether it is capable of – addressing some key dimensions that warrant greater attention.
This article investigates international and national regulation of the recent foray by inclusive insurance firms into platform capitalism. It contributes to current debates on the governance of Fintech/insurtech in digital financial inclusion and platform capitalism. Drawing on Global Political Economy scholarship and John Commons’ concept of futurity, I argue that futurity drives the inclusive insurance market mediated by insurtech platforms. This process is performed within the regulatory sandbox, a dedicated legal framework allowing private firms to test innovative products and business models in a small-scale and controlled environment. The article draws on the analysis of legal documents, semi-structured interviews with key international and national insurance supervisors as well as participant observation in online conferences. The analysis offers empirical insights into the complexities of regulatory institutions to deepen our understanding of the global expansion of platform capitalism in inclusive insurance.
This chapter uses recent crises and dramatic experiences of UK government to reflect on more general and enduring aspects of UK politics and policy. Policy analysis helps to identify the overwhelming number of problems facing a government at any one time, and how ministers define and prioritise problems. Policy studies show how UK ministers draw – with modest success – on the Westminster story to portray strong, decisive government acting in the national interest. Their experiences exemplify the limits associated with the complex government story, including the need to inherit problems and policies, and respond to multiple crises, while having a limited understanding of events and control over outcomes. Critical policy analysis helps to show how policy makers, the media and public pay disproportionate and infrequent attention to inequality.
In 2016, the ‘Brexit’ campaign drew on the Westminster story to describe ‘taking back control’ of UK policy and policy making. In 2020, the UK left the EU. The complex government story suggests that UK ministers have limited knowledge and control over policy processes. The Brexit process exposed those limitations, and changed only one of many drivers of fragmented and multi-level policy making. Brexit created confusion about the new responsibilities of devolved governments, and amplified demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address constitutional issues. For example, what case could people make to leave or remain in the EU? Policy studies identifies how governments manage constitutional change. What was the consequence of Brexit on policy and policy making? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Who won and lost from Brexit?
This chapter shows that studies of COVID-19 help to understand policy-making crises and the social and economic dilemmas associated with public health. COVID-19 prompted rapid and radical UK policy change. State intervention, to limit behaviour and compensate for economic inactivity, seemed inconceivable before 2020. Yet, critics of the UK government identify a too-slow and ineffective response. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on COVID-19 policy and policy making. Policy analysis identifies how to address a profound existential crisis in public health. How could UK and devolved governments define and seek to solve this problem? Policy studies identifies how governments address the problems and policy processes that they do not fully understand or control. How did governments respond? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Whose knowledge mattered? Who won and lost from government action and inaction?
The 2008 global economic crisis had a profound impact on the UK government, which borrowed extensively to support banks and deal with the cost of recession. The 2010 Coalition government sought to address the UK’s deficit and debt problems by reducing public spending and reforming public services. This emphasis on ‘austerity’ reinforced a longer-term trend towards neoliberalism, emphasising state retrenchment in favour of individual and communal activity.
Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address economic crises. For example, what is the size, urgency and cause of the problem? What solutions should governments adopt? Policy studies identifies how governments address the impacts of economic crisis. Which policies have governments favoured, and what has been their impact? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. We highlight choices to reduce social security spending, with a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, women and minoritised populations
Climate change is an existential crisis requiring global and domestic cooperation to secure rapid and radical policy change. There is a large gap between requirements and reality. Environmental issues receive fleeting attention, reforms have not produced the required outcomes, and other policies undermine their progress. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address environmental crises. For example, what policy instruments are technically and politically feasible? Policy studies identifies how governments address the impacts of climate change. Which policies have governments favoured, and what has been their impact? How coherent is their approach to climate change, energy, transport and food policies? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Does policy address climate justice as well as climate change?
This chapter compares different stories of UK policy making.
The Westminster story describes the concentration of power in the hands of few people at the heart of central government.
It remains an important reference point even when it provides an inaccurate account of policy making. The complex government story describes the limits to central government control. It is more accurate but less easy to understand and connect to UK political norms. The chapter explores what happens when policy makers draw on both stories for different reasons, even when they seem to contradict each other.
The UK Labour government supported the US ‘war on terror’ following terrorist attacks on the US on 9 September 2001 (9/11). The UK was a key contributor to US-led wars in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003. The Iraq War prompted high public protest in the UK, without changing UK policy. These conflicts provide a useful way to examine UK foreign policies. Three approaches highlight key perspectives. Foreign policy analysis examines how to understand international conflict. The Westminster and complex government stories help to explain the central control of policy choices but not outcomes. Critical policy analysis helps identify who wins and loses
A growing body of research recognizes the impact of gender on social movement activity. Yet, far less attention has focused on the deployment of repressive methods in a gendered manner. The study contributes to comparative politics literature by proposing a typology of repression. At the start of mass mobilization, state authorities tend to invoke patriarchal norms to ridicule and stigmatize activists. Next, the coercive apparatus targets protesters through the use of psychological intimidation, physical violence, and sexual violence, as well as legal and economic repression. At the end of protests, the police resort to debasement and dehumanization of jailed protesters in a gendered manner. Drawing on the case of Belarus, one of the most restrictive political regimes in Europe, the study illustrates how repressive methods are gendered throughout different phases of mass mobilization. The study seeks to expand our understanding of various ways in which individuals are subject to repression.