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Reframing economic development: thing or mystery?


  • Jens Christensen


The aim of this article is to contribute to the conceptual platforms for a critical and creative approach to economic development. Economic development is a practical matter, but practice depends on the frame within which the situation is experienced, conceptually and emotionally. At a general level, the article discusses critical and creative thinking in relation to economic development and with particular focus on reframing. The key point is that a critical and creative approach challenges the problematic aspects of an actual frame and enters into a process of changing the frame. At a specific level, the article discusses one approach to reframing economic development, namely by the introduction of two core concepts, 'thing' and 'mystery'. 'Thing' is oriented towards objects. 'Mystery' is oriented towards meaning. 'Thing' points at expert-based calculation and manipulation; 'mystery' points at participation and communication, as well as hermeneutics and art. A focus on mystery challenges the expansive and dominative power of the reification embedded in conventional economic thinking and practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Christensen, 2009. "Reframing economic development: thing or mystery?," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(6), pages 723-741.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:23:y:2009:i:6:p:723-741
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170903239887

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