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Autonomy-Respecting Assistance: Toward An Alternative Theory of Development Assistance

David Ellerman

Review of Social Economy, 2004, vol. 62, issue 2, 149-168

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is outline an alternative theory of development assistance by analyzing the old strategies for technical cooperation, capacity-building and, in broader terms, development assistance in a way that will point to new strategies. The perspective is the very old idea that the best form of assistance is to help people help themselves. The problem is how can the helpers supply help that actually furthers rather than overrides or undercuts the goal of the doers helping themselves? This problem of supplying help to self-help, “assisted self-reliance” or assisted autonomy, is the fundamental conundrum of development assistance. The forms of help that override or undercut people's capacity to help themselves will be called “unhelpful help.” These two overriding and undercutting forms of unhelpful help are analyzed and strategies for autonomy-respecting help are presented. Moreover the volitional and cognitive sides of development assistance are given separate but parallel treatment.

Keywords: development assistance; unhelpful help; social engineering; benevolent help; autonomy-respecting assistance; volitional and cognitive aspects (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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DOI: 10.1080/00346760410001684424

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