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Lise Rakner and Vicky Randall

This edition examines the changing nature of politics in the developing world in the twenty-first century, with emphasis on the complex and changing nexus between state and society. It analyses key developments and debates, and this is illustrated by current examples drawn from the global South, tackling a range of issues such as institutions and governance, the growing importance of alternative politics and social movements, security, and post-conflict state-crafting. The text also discusses the Arab Spring and South–South relations and offers new case studies of Syria and the Sudan as well as China, India, and Brazil. This introduction considers the question of the meaningfulness of the Third World as an organizing concept, whether politics is an independent or a dependent variable, and a number of major interconnected global trends that have resulted in a growing convergence in the developing world. It also provides an overview of the organization of this edition.


This chapter examines how social movements in the developing world and ‘bottom-up’ alternative politics, supported by new technology and globalized networks, can strengthen democracy. It first traces the origins of social movements, showing how different forms of social movements have emerged and been influential during different periods, before discussing the main theoretical perspectives about why this is so and how we should understand this phenomenon. It then considers past and present social movements and alternative politics in the developing world, focusing on three categories: movements concerned with democracy and governance, movements concerned with identity politics, and movements concerned with social justice. It also describes the increasing globalization of social movements and explains what makes such movements successful.