New Book

New from Polity: The Struggle for Development by Benjamin Selwyn

10th Dec 2017

The Struggle for Development

    Benjamin Selwyn       

    The world economy is expanding rapidly despite chronic economic crises. Yet the majority of the world’s population live in poverty. Why are wealth and poverty two sides of the coin of capitalist development? What can be done to overcome this destructive dynamic?

    In this hard-hitting analysis Benjamin Selwyn shows how capitalism generates widespread poverty, gender discrimination and environmental destruction. He debunks the World Bank’s dollar-a-day methodology for calculating poverty, arguing that the proliferation of global supply chains is based on the labour of impoverished women workers and environmental ruin. Development theories – from neoliberal to statist and various strands of Marxism – are revealed as justifying and promoting labouring class exploitation despite their pro-poor rhetoric. Selwyn also offers an alternative in the form of labour-led development, which shows how collective actions by labouring classes – whether South African shack-dwellers and miners, East Asian and Indian Industrial workers, or Latin American landless labourers and unemployed workers – can and do generate new forms of human development. This labour-led struggle for development can empower even the poorest nations to overcome many of the obstacles that block their way to more prosperous and equitable lives.

    Table of Contents

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    1 The Big Lie

    2 Capitalism and Poverty

    3 Poverty Chains and the World Economy

    4 Deepening Exploitation: Capital-Centred Development

    5 Resisting Exploitation: Labour-Led Development

    6 Beyond Exploitation: Democratic Development


    Benjamin Selwyn is Professor of International Relations and International Development at the University of Sussex.



    “The Struggle for Development is a compelling inversion of development from the perspective of labour relations and struggles. Combining parsimony with verve, Ben Selwyn offers a didactic account of global labour conditions, movements and future possibilities, laying out a comprehensive alternative development agenda.”

    Philip McMichael, Cornell University


    “In this trenchant analysis, Selwyn goes beyond a critique of the existing patterns of global accumulation and the poverty chains they generate to provide an optimistic argument of how labour struggles can generate genuinely democratic development. This is an important contribution re-envisioning social and economic progress for our times.”

    Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi


  ISBN: 978-1-5095-1278-2

    208 pages

    September 2017, Polity