Recommended Reading: Why Nations Fail

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (Mar 20, 2012)

Hot off the press and at the top of my reading list (along with 1/2 dozen others…) is these economists’ view of inequality and poverty on a global scale.

Why are some countries rich while others remain poor?

The authors conclude the determining factors lie in the failure of economic and political institutions.

They study industrial nations as well as those in development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition, they look at present day and historical evidence. Chapter 1, “So Close and Yet So Different”, is entirely about places in Latin America.

Skip to the end– I reckon we students of development already understand that many top-down problems call for bottom-up solutions — i.e. repressive governments should be replaced by participatory democracy and an empowered citizenry. And that there’s no one way to get there.

But here’s a a bit that caught my attention (p. 461 of 464):

Among the actors that “…play a transformative role in the process of empowerment: the media.” The media can inform the public, coordinate their demands, and “channel the empowerment of a broad segment of society into more durable political reforms.”

“New forms” of media..such as Web blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, played a central role, for example, in the Iranian opposition to the fraudulent election sin 2009 and subsequent repression.

Is social media the great mobilizer? Is it the great (information) equalizer?

And my obvious question: How do you use social media to solve poverty? (Come on…let’s hear it. Because I know there are a lot of you out there!)


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