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Comparative Politics: British and French Colonial Policies – Research Guider

The paper "Comparative Politics: British and French Colonial Policies" is a wonderful example of a research paper on politics.
The main aim of this study will involve the scrutiny of the development concept, during the latter stages of the colonial period by comparing British and French colonial development discourse. In order to meet this aim, the paper will have two major objectives, which are to assess how development became a part of the discourse of colonial powers and the manner in which the meaning of development transformed in relation to colonial rule’s necessities. To do this, the paper will focus on two specific territories in Africa; Tanganyika and Senegal that were colonized by the British and French respectively during the period between WWI and independence.
Research Question
In conducting this research, it is important to discard the commonly held assumption that development was centralized as a concept following WWI to legitimize particular policies towards African colonies, as well as in the conception of the relationships between the colony and the colonial masters. Using this assumption, the paper will seek to answer the questions: What did development as a concept mean between the early 20s and early 60s in colonial Africa and how did this meaning evolve over time? What was the relationship of the specific players involved in development discourse evolution to one another and to relevant institutions?
The research will revolve around some assumptions that will be tested for validity and explored in greater detail if found to be valid. The first assumption is that the development concept gained more prominence between the 20s and the 60s, although it is still to be determined whether development discourse existed as such (Young, 2009). In addition, there is a close interrelationship of institutional sites and discursive strands, although it is still not clear what sequence, direction, and extent the development concept was transmitted. Finally, it is also assumed that development in African colonies during the early 20th century was a concept used in relation to natural resource exploitation (Birnberg & Resnick, 2010). Only later was the concept expanded to include the penetration and transformation of African society.
Key Variables
The independent variable for this research study will be the meaning and significance of development in African colonial society. Dependent variables will include the goals that the development sought to achieve, the means used for development, and the protagonists of the development.
The research study’s choice of the four decades between the 20s and 60s might not at first be self-evident because there is a tendency in historical continuities to look at development in the colonies before WWI and beyond decolonization. However, decolonization and WWI marked a period during which there was a rise in discursive prominence of development (Morgan, 2010). The 1920s decade was a phase of transition between the predatory forms of colonialism in its old form to its modified successor that involved more government action with consolidation and institutionalization of colonial state hegemony. In addition, it was during this period that the French and British began to lose territory in Asia, for which African colonies were socially and economically engineered to plug the shortfall in resources. The reason why this research study uses countries in sub-Saharan Africa is that this region was and still is highly dependent on aid from their former colonial masters. The focus on France and Britain is due to their impact on socio-economic and political structures in Africa in the 20th century (Cain & Hopkins, 2012).
Theoretical Framework
In exploring the research questions, the research study will use a Foucaultian theory variant of discourse analysis, which involves the reconstruction of production of collective knowledge stores, as well as their stabilization and change, and how they inform social behaviour in a man. This Foucaultian approach emphasizes relationships between non-discursive and discursive practices as being complementary parts of a dispositive that is made up of heterogeneous elements like administrative actions, institutions, and discourses (Cooper, 2012). In addition, it also stresses the relationship between the different supporting strands of discourse without neglecting what is outside the discourse. This will allow for the reduction of complexities that arise from having an ensemble of protagonists that contribute to the development dispositive (Conklin, 2011), while also narrowing the scope of the paper and broaden the overall picture.


Birnberg, T. & Resnick, S. (2010). Colonial development: an econometric study. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

Cain, P. & Hopkins, A. (2012). British imperialism: 1688-2000. Harlow: Longman.

Conklin, A. (2011). A mission to civilize: the republican idea of empire in France and West Africa, 1895-1930. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press

Cooper, F. (2012). Africa since 1940: the past of the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Morgan, D. (2010). The official history of colonial development. London: Macmillan.

Young, C. (2009). The African colonial state in comparative perspective. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

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