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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

McFarlane, C. Knowledge, learning and development: a post-rationalist approach. Progress in Development Studies. 2006;6:287-305.

Author(s) from Durham


The relations between knowledge, learning and development are of growing importance in development, but despite the growth of interest in this area since the mid-1990s, key issues have yet to be explored. This review argues the need to attend to how knowledge and learning are conceived in development and how they are produced through organizations. Drawing on mainstream development literature, the review argues that there is a pervasive rationalist conception of knowledge and knowledge transfer as objective and universal, which has political implications. By contrast, the review argues for a post-rationalist approach that conceives development knowledge and learning as partial, social, produced through practices, and both spatially and materially relational.


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Department of Geography