Brock University

Reimagining Development Concepts: Toward Transformative Social Change

Is development at an impasse? Despite decades of interventions and some noticeable shifts in the thinking and practice of development, transformation remains elusive for many countries. Although the reasons for this outcome are complex and numerous, the potential for development concepts and practices to exacerbate this problem must not be understated. This session sheds light on this issue by examining the ways in which current concepts and practices for development can be reimagined. It also considers new and emerging ideas and practices for development and social change. This session invites theoretical and practice-based papers that examine concepts such as, but not limited to, participation, empowerment, globalization, and development. The goal of this session is to contribute to debates regarding the usefulness of these concepts in development praxis.

Session Organizer: Rina Egbo, Carleton University,


Can youth lead the path to social change? The case of Nigeria

Rina Egbo, Carleton University,

Currently, Nigeria is among many developing countries taking an interest in young people’s involvement in socioeconomic and political change. Interest in youth involvement in development is largely predicated on the notion that youth participation will naturally spur change. Taking a critical approach to participation, this paper examines young people’s experiences of development challenges and solutions in Nigeria. Observation and interviews with urban and rural youth residing in Abuja, Nigeria presents a more complex view of participation. My analysis of the study participants’ experiences suggests that while youth seek to contribute, power relations at the global and local levels and within the spaces for youth participation make it difficult for their efforts to translate into structural and institutional change. The paper concludes by reflecting on some of the broader complexities associated with people-centred development concepts.


Towards a critical institutional approach to natural resource management: Conservation and culture at Great Bear Lake, Canada

Ken Caine, Department of Sociology University of Alberta,

I examine conservation and development planning through the lens of critical institutionalism, a development theory that draws upon the multiplicity of potential resources and variability in the capacity of people to act as change agents. Utilizing the findings from three years of ethnographic study of the Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan and the protection of Saoyú ʔehdacho Aboriginal cultural landscape in northern Canada. I challenge the notion of designed institutions and reconceptualize institutional robustness by exploring how messy rules, boundaries and processes, and people’s complex social identities and unequal power arrangements, shape resource management arrangements and outcomes.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie