Professor Gordon Crawford
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Professor Gordon Crawford

Research Professor in Global Development

My Research Vision

My research focuses on the nexus of human rights, democracy and development, especially in countries of the Global South where issues of inequality and deprivation remain most intense. I am interested in people’s struggles for the rights that they are often denied. While liberal democracy may provide a more favourable context for social justice struggles than autocratic ones, I am especially interested in struggles to deepen democracy through innovations in participatory democracy. Neo-liberalism has intensified poverty and inequalities globally over the last three decades and social movement struggles to challenge its hegemony and to achieve social transformation are crucial.

Biography

Professor Gordon Crawford joined Coventry University in October 2015 as a Research Professor in Global Development in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. He has a BA in Sociology, MA in Development Studies, and PhD in Politics from the University of Leeds. Previously he researched and taught on Development Studies programmes at the University of Leeds from 1993, and became Professor of Development Politics in 2008. He was founding director of the Centre for Global Development at Leeds. His research has involved work in Southern Africa, Indonesia, Nepal, and, most notably, in Ghana. He is currently an editorial team member of Africa Spectrum, and a former co-editor of Democratization. Prior to an academic career, he worked in welfare rights and community development activities in the UK, as well as in adult education.

Selected Outputs

Books:

  • Crawford, G., Kruckenberg, L., Loubere, N., and Morgan, R. (eds.) (2016) Understanding Global Development: Reflections on Fieldwork Experiences. London: Sage
  • Andreassen, B.A., and Crawford, G. (eds.) (2013) Human Rights, Power and Civic Action: comparative analyses of struggles for rights in developing societies. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Crawford, G., and Lynch, G. (eds.) (2012) Democratization in Africa: Challenges and Prospects. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Crawford, G. (2001) Foreign Aid and Political Reform: A Comparative Analysis of Democracy Assistance and Political Conditionality. Basingstoke: Palgrave

Journal articles:

Selected Projects

  • The Role of Civil Society Actors in the Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act in Ghana (2015). This research is being undertaken with colleagues from the University of Ghana based at the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) and the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy. It examines whether and how the Domestic Violence Coalition, and the individual civil society organisations that make up its membership, have sought to influence the state's implementation of the domestic violence legislation in Ghana, and what have been the main constraints and challenges in this process.
  • The impact of Chinese involvement in small-scale gold mining in Ghana (2014).Funded by a grant from the International Growth Centre (LSE, University of Oxford), this project looked at the recent controversial phenomenon of illegal foreign involvement in artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana, especially of large numbers of miners from China. Research was undertaken with colleagues from the University for Education, Winneba, and Bolgatanga Polytechnic in Ghana. These illicit mining activities led not only to instances of conflict between Ghanaian and Chinese miners, but also to collaboration between miners and indeed collusion by state officials in illegality. The mechanisation and intensification of small-scale mining introduced by Chinese miners has transformed this traditional economic activity in a short period of time, and led to much larger-scale environmental degradation.
  • Experiences of Participatory Democracy in selected countries of Europe (2013). Funded by a grant from Action Aid International, this project looked at recent innovations in participatory democracy in Europe. Findings were as follows. First, there are a significant number of democratic innovations across Europe that aim to enhance the degree of citizen participation in political decision-making processes. Second, examples are fairly evenly spread between citizen-led and state-led initiatives, with the latter typically more consultative than genuinely participatory. Third, the initiatives are very heterogeneous in nature, with e-participation and participatory budgeting the most common forms. Fourth, the scope of initiatives remains very localised. Unlike Latin America, there are no instances where a more participatory form of democracy is being implemented at a national level. Finally, the examples are very different in the challenge they pose to representative democracy. Social movements like Los indignados in Spain promote an alternative form of politics, based on horizontal structures, deliberation, inclusion and consensus decision-making. But the large majority of examples are compatible with representative democracy. See Crawford, G., and Werner, M. (2015) 'Participatory Democracy Initiatives in Europe'. In Participatory Democracy: Practices and Reflections. Ed. by Rijal, M. Nepal: Action Aid, 109-133.
  • Transnational land acquisition and local food security in Ghana (2013). This pilot study looked at examples of land acquisition by foreign companies for the cultivation of bio-fuels, and the impact on local food security. Findings were that most projects had been abject failures, but nonetheless local communities had often lost farm land to long-term leases to commercial companies. Funded by the Africa College, University of Leeds. 
  • Transforming Post-Conflict Societies: Everyday Violence and Access to Justice. Conference held at British Library, London, 22-23 May 2012, as part of World Universities Network AGM. 
  • Transformative Justice after Mass Violence: The Role of Non-Governmental Actors. International conference, 12-13 May 2011, University of Leeds, funded by the World Universities Network.
  • Rights, Power and Civic Action: Comparative analyses of human rights-based approaches and civic struggle in development contexts, (2009-12). This was a large six-country study funded by the Research Council of Norway, Poverty and Peace programme, with a grant awarded to Prof. Bård Anders Andreassen, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. Prof. Crawford was the Co-Investigator, responsible for co-leading the project and for the Ghana case-study. The project investigated struggles for human rights by various NGOs and social movements in different country contexts. It analysed how different forms of power constrain human rights activism, and explored the construction of countervailing empowerment by rights-promoting organisations to challenge such dominant power structures. See related publications above.
  • Decentralisation and Grassroots Struggles for Rights in Ghana, (2007). Funded by British Academy small grant for project on. For findings, see Crawford, G. (2009) above.
  • Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction in Ghana, (2004).Funded by Social Science Grant from the Nuffield Foundation. For findings, see Crawford, G. (2008) ‘Decentralization and the Limits to Poverty Reduction: Findings from Ghana’. Oxford Development Studies 36 (2), 235-258.
  • Evaluating Democracy and Governance Assistance, (2001-02). Funded by the Department for International Development. For findings, see: Crawford, G. (2003) 'Promoting Democracy From Without - Learning from Within (Part I)'. Democratization 10 (1), 77-98 and Crawford, G. (2003) 'Promoting Democracy From Without - Learning from Within (Parts II)'. Democratization 10 (2), 1-20. Available from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/714000119
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Research Professor in Global Development