Development and the Third Sector

Too often, the development literature portrays aid recipients as passive players, either targeted or ignored by the actions of humanitarian agencies. In contrast, Viterna argues that potential aid recipients are active agents in their own communities’ development.  Analyzing how communities pursue their own development advances the field in several new directions.  It increases the number and kind of aid actors within our academic line of sight.  It improves our understanding of why some communities are more successful at tapping into humanitarian aid flows than others.  It better measures the impacts of aid on anticipated outcomes, like educational attainment or household income.  And it brings to light a number of critical yet typically unanticipated outcomes of development projects, like stark fluctuations in local-level inequalities, transformations in local-level collective mobilization processes, changing migration flows, or the restructuring of local-level cultural relationships.  With support from Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Viterna and her colleagues are collecting data on this project in Turkey, Lebanon, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, and India.

Related Publications:

2015. Viterna with Emily Clough and Killian Clarke. "Reclaiming the 'Third Sector' from 'Civil Society': A New Agenda for Development Studies.Sociology of Development, 1: 1 pp. 173-207.

2015. Viterna with Cassandra Robertson. "New Directions for the Sociology of Development." Annual Review of Sociology, 41:5, pp. 1-27.

Research Team:

Killian Clarke, Graduate Student in Political Science, Princeton University
Emily Clough, Graduate Student in Government, Harvard University
Charlotte Lloyd, Graduate Student in Sociology, Harvard University