Postgraduate Dissertation

Individualism, Rights and Development


The Rights Based Approach (RBA) of development, suggesting duty-bearers should be held to account through Human Rights, has recently gained prominence. This study will evaluate the philosophical and societal underpinnings of this theory, developing an alternative method of development based on the criticisms of RBA. By using methods and theories from political philosophy this thesis will provide an original conception of the weakness of RBA’s as a theory. In addition to other societal concerns, this research will first and foremost reveal individualism to be the central weakness of RBA and hence will build a theory of development based on community building. The study will conclude that the social nature of the individual needs to be central to any method of development, which additionally needs to take into account the urban reality of the 21st century, without condoning violent upheaval. Furthermore, showing that rights are less useful in the field of development and that RBA has been instrumentalized to absolve northern countries of their historical responsibilities towards development, finally concluding that liberalism in general conflicts with a more communal lifestyle inherent to the Global South. These deductions will instigate the conceptualisation of the Big Table, a method of conciliatory development including all present stakeholders accompanied by neutral facilitators.

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Harrassowitz Milburn, Paul


Rights Holders: Harrassowitz Milburn, Paul
Supervisors: Akerkar, Supriya

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree programme

MA Development and Emergency Practice



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