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An Approach To The Regional Neoliberal Governance In Southern Africa From A Critical Perspective

1238 words - 5 pages

''An approach to the regional neoliberal governance in Southern Africa from a critical perspective.''

Artemis Pierratou
1st Seminar Paper

In order to examine the possible implications of neoliberalism in contemporary Africa, an analysis based on a regional dimension is important. The multiplicity of strategies and methods of governance in a specific regional context can appear merging, mingling or even clashing, since regions can be understood as political and social projects, where different actors act in favour of the maintenance, protection or transformation of prevalent structures. In that way, according to Söderbaum, ''regions can be disrupted from within and from without by the same forces that build them up''. (Söderbaum 2004a, p. 421). The process of economic globalization and the impact of neoliberalism in the contemporary world have affected the context in which regionalism/ regionalization occurs, with new balances and relations and consequent ''implications for the political economy of regionalism'' (Söderbaum 2004b, p. 17).The new regionalism movement comes as an answer to those challenges deriving from transnational actors and those posed to the nation state. Additionally, it appears as an attempt of bringing non-state actors and informal procedures into the attention of scholars (Acharya 2012, p. 9). Furthermore, critical theories can be a useful tool for our understanding of structural and social change and transformations. Following this line, a critical international political economy approach, which moves away from state centrism and towards an examination of the ''state-society complex'' (Söderbaum 2004a, p. 419), can be used while examining the expansion of neoliberal policies and its consequences at South Africa and the broader region of southern Africa and the continent.

Regional governance in Africa, during the last decades, has been mainly dominated by the form of that with neoliberal characteristics. Neoliberal regional governance appears through different kinds of initiatives, both of macro and micro- regional character around the continent. To give an example, NEPAD falls under the category of a continental framework while the SDIs under the category of cross-border subregional integration initiatives. According to the theory, those different schemes are not contradicting each other, but they all work towards the same target and the consequent integration of the subregions and the continent in the global economic system. In that way, neoliberal regional consists of networks and coalitions between different actors such as governments, corporations, financial institutions and donors although policies are supposed to be formally designated by national governments. (Ibid: p. 431). However, even if the main argument for the neoliberal regional governance is the promotion of the public interest, the public seems lacking the needed attention, in favour of the private element. ''Poverty reduction is reduced to economic...

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