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Developmentalities and Calculative Practices: The Millennium Development Goals

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This paper focuses on wide-ranging governmental discourses that enable new ways of shaping social and economic affairs in the field of development. Directing particular attention to the Millennium Development Goals, we refer to these discourses as developmentalities. As a form of governmentality produced through these Goals, developmentalities draw on the turn of the century to recast certain development problems and offer reformulated solutions to these problems. We argue that they rely on three forms of neoliberal rationalities of government—information profiling, responsibilization, and knowledge networks, and their calculative practices, to shape global spaces and new capacities for individuals and social groups. Our analysis is based on extensive policy documents, reports, and development initiatives affiliated with the United Nations and other organizations, as well as insights derived from in-depth interviews and conversations with United Nations policy and research personnel from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Keywords: United Nations Millennium Development Goals; calculative practices; developmentalities; expertise; neoliberal rationalities

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada; ,, Email:

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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