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The democratic developmental state – Southern African and Nordic experiences

The democratic developmental state – Southern African and Nordic experiences

WORKSHOP organised by CROP, Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD), UiB Global (UiB) and School of Government (University of Western Cape).

9-11 February 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa


Workshop programme

The 'developmental state' generally refers to the model many of the East Asian and Latin American nations pursued after the Second World War to rapidly modernise their economies, ensure economic growth and promote structural change. Its zenith occurred in a political context marked by:

  1. undemocratic, authoritarian governments,
  2. poverty and inequality; and
  3. one of the largest economic transformations of the modern era.

National and international drives toward democracy in a world threatened by poverty, inequality, recurrent economic crises, rapid globalisation, and environmental degradation reinvigorated the search for structures of governance capable to deal with all these challenges at the same time. Therefore, the democratic developmental state (DDS) arises as an alternative to current governance challenges both in the South and in the North.

The notion of DDS is based on the premise that democracy and development (in its traditional view) are complementary. This premise had been questioned, empirically and theoretically, during the second part of 20th century and the debate is increasingly relevant in times where the post-2015 development agenda is being re-discussed.

The aim of the workshop is to encourage genuine academic discussion based on empirical findings, case studies, cross national comparisons, in addition to theoretical discussion as to what a democratic developmental state model could mean in different cultural, economic and political contexts.

The seminar will focus on, but not be limited to, these issues and questions like:

  • What are the socio-political conditions for the emergence and consolidation of a DDS? How can we currently conceive and implement a model capable of “governing" the markets (“market guidance") and implementing long lasting plan towards a sustainable and inclusive development? What are the required roles of the state, local government, civil societies, and international actors for the DDS to effectively address, at the same time, all the challenges mentioned above?
  • Sustainable and inclusive development could be conceived as the key to legitimize democratic governance. Are existing political national and international regimes conducive towards the achievement of this kind of legitimized development? Why?
  • What are the levels of poverty, inequality, and environmental threat that current states and democracies can afford? How is this theoretically and empirically related to the DDS? What historical experiences in the South and in the Nordic countries can be useful to a fruitful debate of structures of governance in the 21st Century?
  • What is the role of universities and research based knowledge for DDS?


The abstract must be in English and not exceed 500 words (one page) and must include: the title of the proposed paper, the presentation of the subject, the central argument, the research question and/or hypothesis and the main bibliography. In addition, a CV no longer than one page must be submitted clearly indicating the name, title, nationality and contact information as well as a list of recent publications.

The abstract and the CV must be submitted by E-mail to the following address:


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