Do Buzzwords Enable Development : Part 1

The 21st century has significantly embarked new landscape in the  world’s political and economic as the world made some important breakthrough from prolonged conflicts. The new redefined international relationship generates some refreshing development agenda to recover countries that badly affected by the conflict. As the world facing fast growing environment, buzzwords play an important role in development framework worldwide. The long list of development’s buzzwords has been invented to persuade the world. The words such as equality, empowerment and poverty reduction were popularized and propagated over the globe especially to the poor and underdeveloped countries. These words appear to provide some confidence and optimism to mainstream development policies.

The need to understand the definition of buzzword is often essential in order to perceive the relationship and role of buzzword in development. Oxford Dictionary (2015) defines buzzword as “A word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context”. Meanwhile Rist (2007) regards ‘development’ itself as buzzword and “its actual meaning is still elusive, since it depends on where and by whom it is used”. Cornwall and Brock (2005, p.1) suggest that three terms which are “poverty reduction, participation and empowerment have gained considerable purchase in recent years in the language of mainstream development”. As the list of buzzwords is not exhaustive, terms like democracy, human rights, international and peace security, tolerance, respect, understanding, freedom of expression, integrity, rule of law, good governance, sustainable development, civil society and equal participation are conceived in the development plan.


This essay is to provide some argument whether buzzwords enable development. The word ‘democracy’, ‘poverty reduction’, ‘good governance’ and ‘participation’ will be discussed further in this essay despite the fact that their achievement in enabling development for past few decades remain disputed. It might be suggested that revision of the pragmatic use of earlier mentioned buzzwords in accomplishing development agenda has become more essential than inventing new buzzwords. Despite their ambiguities, development’s buzzwords survived as primary subject in any international development discourse.

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