Debating the Right to Development

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM-12:20 PM
Room: Booth 46
TG03 Human Rights and Global Justice (host committee)

Language: English

With the founding of the Thematic Group on Human Rights and Global Justice in the International Sociological Association and the Section on Human Rights in the American Sociological Association, the sociological analysis of human rights has been formalized as a distinct field of academic research. In essence, the nascent field explores not only the social conditions under which “rights claims” are made by aggrieved parties, social movement organizations, and NGOs, but also the “rights effects” – changes in state policies and laws – attained, albeit through complex processes of mediation, by popular mobilizations (and their coalition allies) laying claim to competing interpretations of the human rights canon. Accordingly, the field has moved considerably beyond its origins in the sociology of law by borrowing from political economy, development sociology, and economic sociology (to illuminate the global economic circumstances that foment rights claims), social movement research (to elucidate the worldviews, strategies, and tactics of rights-oriented coalitions), and political sociology (to explain how rights effects are achieved by states). Arguably, the three emerging approaches converge on a pressing question (especially in the Global South): In light of the failures of developmentalism in its previous guises, what does it mean to proclaim the “right to development”? This panel explores various attempts to extricate the kernel of development – the idea of planned social change to improve the material wellbeing of a society – from the pitfalls of positivism and economism, gender insensitivity, Eurocentrism and cultural exclusion, and ecological destruction. In the process, it examines development as a “rights bundle” that cuts across the conventional categories of civil and political rights, economic and social rights, and cultural and environmental rights.
Session Organizer:
Mark FREZZO, University of Mississippi, USA
Bruce FRIESEN, University of Tampa, USA
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