Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Jamie Frueh

Degree Award Date

Spring 2005


Rhetoric, Policy, International Development


International Relations | Political Science


The politics of international development have provided researchers with incredibly fertile ground for historical discovery. Because of the vast amount of information available in this field, there are a considerable number of differing perspectives that can effectively be applied to the topic. Two of the most popular options are considering the rhetoric and the policy of development. Most of the research on international development by far has been focused on identifying and explaining the progression of development policy throughout the years. This perspective scrutinizes the information about the development practices carried out by actors in the global arena, including states, international organizations, such as the World Bank, and nongovernmental organizations like the Third World Network. Another approach is to consider the rhetoric of development. Researchers interested in rhetoric look at the different ways that international development and foreign aid are framed in theories, speeches, press releases, news reports, and the like. Both approaches are valid, but neither is comprehensive enough on its own to effectively understand the complex processes and social arrangements of international development.

Instead of focusing on either rhetoric or policy in international development, the focus of this paper will be to look at the relationship between the two. Looking at development through this lens will allow a more nuanced and comprehensive investigation at the way that our understanding of how to attempt and talk about international development has changed over time. This approach allows us to see how emergency, ad hoc practices become reinterpreted through rhetoric, and how that rhetoric can go on to guide development practice in the future. It allows us to examine a more complex relationship between our theories and our practices, and how they guide and make sense of each other.