Paradigm Shift or Reinventing the Wheel? Towards a Research Agenda on Change and Continuity in EU Development Policy

Publication Date: 
16 June 2020
UACES in association with the UACES Graduate Forum
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
Journal of Contemporary European Research

While policy and academic discourses point to important shifts in EU development policy, it remains difficult to ascertain the level of these changes. The main aim of this article is to propose a research agenda on change and continuity in EU development policy. Drawing on the literatures on paradigm change and post-development, this involves four key questions for future research: (1) How can we map the EU’s current paradigm? (2) How can we map changes and continuities in this regard? (3) How can we explain changes and continuities? (4) What role do policy experiments play in this regard? In addressing these four questions, the article pays particular attention to what we already know from existing literature and to what issues could guide future research. We highlight that ostensibly significant changes are often ‘merely’ second order changes that do not challenge underlying philosophical ideas of the Eurocentric, modernist and colonial paradigm. Specifically, we point at the importance of studying whether policy experiments ‘reinvent’ this paradigm or induce paradigmatic change. In the conclusions, we summarize the research agenda and reflect on the need of a better acknowledgement of the ‘PlEUriverse’ of alternatives to ‘development’ within Europe.

European Union, development, paradigm, post-development