The Elusive Synthesis

July 12, 2011, 5:18 p.m.

Thomas Carothers addresses the relationship between development and democracy aid specialists in his paper “The Elusive Synthesis” published in the Journal of Democracy.  The relationship has changed overtime from being skeptical of each other, at times working at odds, to now frequently working in close connection to each other.  Democracy specialists are increasingly working hand in hand with sector specific development programs.  Many of the differences between the two areas were and at times still are organizational, conceptual, methodological, and psychological.  The gap between the two areas began to decrease around the end of the Cold War.   Donor organizations that used to solely focus on development issues started incorporating democracy programs into their portfolios. 

One area that helped to bridge the gap between socioeconomic issues and democracy promotion was civil society.  Civil society is involved in both areas, in that they focus on socioeconomic issues but require accountability and transparency to ensure that changes come.  They have to be able to monitor projects and activities.  Each side sees the need for good governance in order to make sure that development programs are administered correctly and that corruption is kept in check.  Overtime specialists in development and democracy have seen the benefits of working together while still being aware of the differences between them.  However, some are still wary that democracy can in be a deterrent for development.  As Carothers points out, bridges have been built between the two areas but their connections are still shaky and there is not strong empirical evidence that democracy is essential to development working.

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