Die Verhandlung des Westens. Wissenseliten und die Heterogenität Westeuropas nach 1945

Wissenseliten, Entwicklungshilfe und die Konstruktion des Westens in der OEEC und OECD

  • Matthias Schmelzer


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its predecessor, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), are widely regarded as paradigmatic “Western” international organizations, essentially defining what it means to be a modern capitalist state. Focusing on transnational debates about development aid within the OEEC and OECD in the 1950s and 190s, this article analyses, in the context of Cold War and decolonization, how the “West” was constructed among experts, how they managed intra-European discrepancies between the richer “Northern” European and the poorer “Southern” European countries, and how these were conceptualized in relation to non-member countries from the global “South”. It shows how development aid within the OEEC emerged simultaneously from the apparatus of its colonial powers and from the need to handle an intra-European “North-South” divide. The article further argues that within this economic organization the rift between richer and poorer countries running through Western Europe was primarily couched in a technical and economic language in which the categories “developed” and “underdeveloped” were central concepts. The expert debates defined a region with specific characteristics – economically backwards, poor, and structurally lagging behind the richer OECD countries – thereby establishing a discourse that, from the 1970s onwards, powerfully shaped the explicitly geographic social scientific concept of “Southern” Europe.

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How to Cite

Schmelzer, M. (2015). Entwickelter Norden, unterentwickelter Süden?. Comparativ, 25(3), 18-35. https://doi.org/10.26014/j.comp.2015.03.02