A Prototypical Case in the Making? Challenging Comparative Perspectives on French Aid
Abstract The comparative literature presents a mixed picture of French development assistance, with qualitative studies portraying this as a ‘deviant’ case while variable-led analyses view it as broadly ‘representative’. Both sets of studies ignore the possibility that French aid might be ‘prototypical’, laying down ideas and practices for other donors. Drawing upon a conceptual framework and over twenty interviews, this article challenges these comparative perspectives and paves the way for wider consideration of French ideas on international development. It argues that French assistance has undergone ‘mainstreaming’ and developed prototypical features since Prime Minister Jospin’s reforms of the late 1990s. It attributes these prototypical characteristics to France’s continuing ambivalence towards international aid norms, its more strategic approach to promoting French ideas and the emergence of a more propitious intellectual climate for those ideas. It concludes by reconciling different perspectives on French assistance and exploring the implications of these findings for Northern aid.
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Volume (Year): 29 (2017)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
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