Latest Issues

Accountability Amidst Fragility, Conflict, and Violence: Learning from Recent Cases

Volume 50 Number 3 September 2019

Edited by: Anuradha Joshi

Estimates suggest that by 2030, about half of the world’s poor will live in contexts of fragility, conflict and violence, all of which exacerbate the difficulties faced by poor and marginalised people, particularly in influencing the policy decisions that affect their lives. This issue of the IDS Bulletin was prepared as part of Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA), an international research programme exploring social and political action in fragile, conflict, and violent settings. It identifies insights from relatively recent experiences of grass-roots struggles and related social and political change. The articles highlight key issues that are central in understanding how accountability pathways unfold in contexts of fragility, violence, and conflict. Such contexts are often ones where state institutions are weak, fragmented, and lack legitimacy; where non-state actors control territory and often provide services, and where civic space is limited and uneven. The issue emphasises the importance of distinguishing processes of accountability from those of empowerment, and recognising the complexities of the relationships between them. As pockets of fragility, conflict, and violence emerge in what have so far been relatively stable places, the initial insights discussed here will be increasingly relevant for tackling these issues globally.

The Political Economy of Food

Volume 50 Number 2 July 2019

Edited by: Jody Harris, Molly Anderson, Chantal Clément and Nicholas Nisbett

Any analysis of food systems needs to include power as an aspect of political economy, in order to understand how power relations develop over time and how they affect different food system actors.

This issue of the IDS Bulletin examines a range of perspectives on power in food systems, and the various active players, relationships, activities, and institutions that play a major role in shaping them. It notes the need for mainstream research and policy to grapple with power inequities in the food system, in order, for instance, to challenge the increase in private sector funding that is reshaping food systems. The power of dominant food system actors is often reinforced or overlooked, having negative consequences for those unable to access sufficient healthy food or to participate in decision-making about the food system.

The articles here present the viewpoints that emerged during a workshop on the Political Economy of Food Systems, run jointly by IDS and IPES-Food. The articles begin with an introduction to how power is analysed from different political economy perspectives before moving on to articles focusing on four key themes: diversity and innovation, the food–health nexus, the politics of consumption, and agroecology and food sovereignty. Two case studies then demonstrate applications of power analyses or structural approaches to food and nutrition at national and local levels. A final set of articles considers methodological questions around understanding power in the food system and some of the unresolved questions that emerged from the workshop, which can form an agenda for future work.

Exploring Research–Policy Partnerships in International Development

Volume 50 Number 1 June 2019

Edited by: James Georgalakis and Pauline Rose

This issue aims to identify how partnerships focused on the production of policy-engaged research seek to achieve societal impact and explores the challenges in these processes. The collaborations analysed span academia, civil society and government, from the grassroots to the national and global levels. By locating these examples within the broader debates on interactions between researchers and research users designed to strengthen evidence informed decision making, this publication offers concepts and practices to inform those funding, designing and undertaking development research.

The featured case studies are explored through the perspectives of both researchers and their partners in civil society and policy. They are predominantly taken from a diverse portfolio of research projects funded through the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) Strategic Partnership. A collaboration with the Impact Initiative, this IDS Bulletin is essential reading for all those in research organisations, development agencies and donors committed to the better use of evidence and learning for development.