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Challenging the Orthodoxy of Economic Globalisation; a Performative Discourse That Activates the Dynamics of Underdevelopment in West Africa

In: Proceedings of the Conference on Human and Economic Resources


  • Abdoulie Sallah

    (University of Leicester)


This paper evaluates critically the discourse of ‘economic globalisation’. This discourse extend the belief that capitalist firms now produce the vast majority of goods and services produced in the world (i.e., the commodification thesis) by asserting that this process of commodification is increasingly taking place within an open world economy in which firms operate in a deregulated and seamless global marketplace. In the economic globalisation thesis, therefore, it is a specific type of commodified economy that is becoming hegemonic and stretching its tentacles wider and deeper across the globe, namely unregulated or ‘free market’ capitalism composed of hyper-mobile and homeless capital operating in a borderless world. The main aim/objective of this paper is to contest the narrative of economic globalisation adopted by the globalists, demonstrating its performative character. In doing so, it will contest the view that globalisation is the only future, and display how the future is more open than suggested by its proponents. This thesis will use the Gambia to produce empirical evidence of the shallowness of economic globalisation. So far data that will be use in writing up this paper will be secondary data, but however I am due to be going for a field work in the Gambia in July this year to carryout empirical research, using a barrage of techniques to collect my data. Methods will include a structured questionnaire that will be used to measure the embeddedness of Gambian households in the globalisation process, and also semi-ethnography to evaluate the impacts of economic globalisation. Although I have not yet reached any results, my research will more than likely prove that: • Globalisation is a performative discourse. • The lived practices/coping strategies of households have less to do with globalisation. • The informal economy in West Africa (The Gambia) is not demising as proposed by the globalists, rather it is increasing. • Globalisation (Capitalist globalisation) is not the formula for the socio-economic development of West Africa (The Gambia). • The future is open to other alternatives. Being the first of its kind in the Gambia, that is to my knowledge, my research other than seeking to challenge the hypotheses of globalisation (akin to commodification and formalisation) also seeks to create some policy implications which would enable the Gambia and other West African states to target social assistance and strengthen their civil society and instruments of sustainable human development in the informal sector. I strongly believe that unless and until great steps are taking by Gambians and other West Africans to address the current socio-economic equation, we in the Gambia and the West African sub-region will continue to suffer untold socio-economic problems which will continue to facilitate the development of underdevelopment, and strengthen our own marginalisation that has already been set in motion. I feel that the first and foremost step of the many great steps that would need to be taken, is the studying of the past and present socio-economic conditions of the Gambia and its relationship with capitalist globalisation which will certainly lead to a comprehensive understanding of the current situation.

Suggested Citation

  • Abdoulie Sallah, 2006. "Challenging the Orthodoxy of Economic Globalisation; a Performative Discourse That Activates the Dynamics of Underdevelopment in West Africa," Papers of the Annual IUE-SUNY Cortland Conference in Economics,in: Proceedings of the Conference on Human and Economic Resources, pages 297-314 Izmir University of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:izm:prcdng:200624

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sahn, David E., 1992. "Public expenditures in sub-Saharan Africa during a period of economic reforms," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 673-693, May.
    2. Bratton, Michael, 1989. "The politics of government-NGO relations in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 569-587, April.
    3. Klarita Gërxhani, 2004. "The Informal Sector in Developed and Less Developed Countries: A Literature Survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 120(3_4), pages 267-300, September.
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