Plans constructed within a conceptual apparatus do have effects but in the process of having these effects they generally ‘fail’ to transform the world in their own image. But ‘failure’ here does not mean doing anything; it means doing something else, and that something always has its own logic. Systems of discourse and systems of thought are thus bound up in a complex causal relationship with the stream of planned and unplanned events that constitutes the social world.
In other words, intentions and plans may be very powerful in the way they isolate and elevate certain types of knowledge and practices, the way in which a ‘masterplan’ is constructed. But the ways that this masterplan ‘makes’ reality are far more unpredictable and complex, operating as they do in a world of unacknowledged structures and processes. This is not a normative statement, it is an analytical premise: discourses have very real impacts on social realities. The actual outcome, however, is empirically open, given the dynamics and complexity of the social world. But discourses do frame (if not a priori ‘fix’) modes of thought and epistemic ‘truths’, and they produce specific sets of acknowledged practices, interventions, and other forms of regulating society. In the context of recipient countries, they often constitute by far the most financially, technically, and materially dominant actors. The goal is to take the development discourse at face value and to trace the ways in which the governance and anti-corruption interventions initiated and financed through foreign aid have indeed contributed to emancipation. Not bluntly through ‘stronger’ institutions or more ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability, but rather looking at the ways in which political articulations link up to this discourse and seek to (re)frame it according to their interests and claims and practices.
In other words, if one takes ‘corruption’ and ‘governance’ seriously, it becomes necessary to analyze the processes through which social change is effected. This may not be through the rather mechanistic processes that development interventions are based on. But the paradigms, programs, and interventions of foreign aid of governance and anti-corruption will still play a prominent way in the thoughts, actions, and horizons of social actors. Ultimately, the intention is to theorize the ways in which social actors appropriate meanings of corruption, and the effects this operation has on the structuring of the region. However, this exploration will take off the beaten track of conventional theorizations to eradicate unmannered methods of exchange.