States, political systems and development

The group is made up of DPP members and other OU colleagues who work at the interface of politics and international development. We examine multiple ways of researching political ideas, policies and actions. Our work is both analytical and normative.

The theoretical underpinnings of the group are rooted (not exclusively) in the tradition of critical social and political thought. As Cox (1981:129) emphasizes, this tradition,

“… does not take institutions and social and power relations for granted but calls them into question by concerning itself with the origins and how and whether they might be in the process of changing”. 

Within this broad and cross-cutting agenda we focus on:

  • The relationship between development actors, institutions and dynamics of change at the level of political ideas. This further focuses on global justice, cosmopolitanism and politics of development as well as on transnational networks, states and power.
  • At the level of policies, our focus is on the interaction between governance and government and civil society.
  • At the level of actions, research focus is mainly on social movements, participation, conflict and cooperation. 

Potential research projects

Within the context of development, we are interested in research at the intersection of political ideas, policies and actions of:

  • Local, national, transnational and global governance
  • Civil society, collective action and political networks
  • Global justice and global citizenship
  • Political systems and development
  • Public engagement and new media
  • Knowledge production and transfer, and social learning

Current research projects

  • Knowledge production for sustainable Bioenergy: An analysis of UK decision processes and priorities
  • Unpacking role of industry associations in diffusion and governance of health innovations in developing countries  

Potential supervisors

Prof Giles Mohan

Prof Theo Papaioannou

Dr Peter Robbins

Prof Helen Yanacopulos



How amazingly dynamic and inclusive the wider Open University community is, and how well-resourced the Open University campus is in terms of library access and research training

Clive Gabay