‘A philosophy of change’: Emotions, civil society and global development

Sarah Peck*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Dominant paradigms of global development have historically been devoid of emotions, connected with racialized and gendered ideas of rationality and civility. Within contemporary scholarship there is however increasing recognition of the importance of emotions for understanding development processes. This paper adds to this body of work by exploring the ways that emotions shape how people who are trying to ‘do’ development actually do it. Drawing on empirical material from conversations with civil society activists based on the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Barbados, this article explores some of the emotions that are present within civil society organizing and makes the case that in this context emotions are not just felt, they are generative of civil society organizing and wider development processes. Focusing on shame, the article demonstrates how emotions are produced relationally within civil society organizing, how emotions are generative and can co-construct spaces for civil society and how civic organizing can act as counter-expressions to these feelings. Emotions are then constitutive of global development, yet often neglected in dominant discourses of civil society within the development sphere, with professional subjectivities dominant.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100948
Number of pages7
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date17 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

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