Naomi Hossain

Naomi Hossain
American University Washington D.C. | AU · School of International Service

PhD
I am based at the Accountability Research Center - check out our work here: https://accountabilityresearch.org/

About

133
Publications
76,929
Reads
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Introduction
Political sociologist & Research Professor at the Accountability Research Center, American University. Research on the politics of poverty, broadly. Specifically, on elite perceptions of poverty and inequality, accountability in education and social protection, women’s empowerment, and the politics of subsistence crises, in particular food riots and 'anti-famine social contracts'. Cross-country research in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, but mostly in Bangladesh.
Additional affiliations
April 2008 - present
University of Sussex
Position
  • Research Associate
March 2004 - April 2008
BRAC
Position
  • Senior Researcher
August 1994 - August 1995
BRAC
Position
  • Economist

Publications

Publications (133)
Article
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Between 2005 and 2018, 41 countries had at least one riot directly associated with popular demand for fuel. We make use of a new international dataset on fuel riots to explore the effects of fuel prices and price regimes on fuel riots. In line with prior expectations, we find that large domestic fuel price shocks - often linked to international pri...
Chapter
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This chapter looks at the evidence on complaint mechanisms in the public sector and was developed to support the Open Government Partnership's Skeptic’s Guide 2022.
Research
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This Working Paper reports on a scoping study on the mechanisms and processes through which the Bangladeshi government listened to citizens’ needs and citizens held government accountable for its policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on an extensive review of selected literature; online and official data; and key informant interviews wit...
Chapter
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Bangladesh has had innovative programmes to assist schoolchildren with food or cash since 1993, reflecting the country’s longstanding political commitment to so- cial protection and mass education. This chapter analyses how politics shapes the implementation of the main national education assistance scheme, the Primary Education Stipend Project (PE...
Article
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The pandemic meant the celebrations of Bangladesh's 50th year of independence in 2021 were more subdued than hoped. This Viewpoint article reflects on the messages and the silences emerging from the international articles and online conferences marking the anniversary. Bangladesh's long experience on the frontlines of untrammeled globalization and...
Article
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Energy protests are becoming increasingly common and significant around the world. While in the global North concerns tend to centre around climate issues, in the global South the concerns are more often with affordable energy. Both types of protests, however, have one issue in common: the undemocratic nature of energy policymaking. This paper draw...
Article
This article explores how the people and landscape of the Bay of Bengal came to be cast in terms of what Giorgio Agamben called ‘bare life’ – a people without the protection or mandate of sovereign law – in the international discourse of the early 1970s. This was a period marked in the emerging nation of Bangladesh by cyclone, war and famine. Inter...
Article
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Concerns about closing civic space have focused on human rights, and little to date has been known of the impacts on development. This article traces impacts of closing civic space on civil society and social movements addressing poverty and hunger in Brazil, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Countries that clamped down on civil society and social m...
Preprint
Full-text available
Fuel riots are common around the world. Between 2005 and 2018, 41 countries had at least one riot directly associated with popular demand for fuel. We make use of a new international dataset on fuel riots to explore the effects of fuel prices and price regimes on fuel riots. In line with prior expectations, we find that large domestic fuel price sh...
Article
Full-text available
Visual evidence can be a powerful part of strategies for pursuing accountability and social justice, and with the means of recording and viewing images now literally in our hands, we are becoming ever more sophisticated makers and users of visual evidence. This essay examines the role of photography in creating visual evidence in support of struggl...
Chapter
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Changes in the lives of Bangladeshi women and girls have been held up as evidence that aid, political commitment, and partnerships with civil society can transform gender relations and empower women in the development process. The evidence of this transformation is visible. Bangladeshi women occupy a broader range of roles in their society—as facto...
Article
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In 2016, a conditional cash transfer programme that had been assisting targeted poor children since the 1990s was reformed to reach all children attending government schools in Bangladesh. Since the reforms, the cash has been disbursed through mobile money technology and a digital database. It is unchanged in key respects: it is still routed throug...
Article
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread in 2020, the government of Bangladesh ordered a lockdown and promised a program of relief. Citizens complied at first, but soon returned to economic and social life; relief proved slow and uncertain, and citizens could not rely on government assistance. The government tacitly and then officially permitted the lockdow...
Article
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Food has become both a pivotal topic in development and a lens through which to integrate and address a range of contemporary global challenges. This review article addresses in particular the interrelationship between food and sustainable, equitable development, arguing that this is fundamentally political. We offer a set of approaches to understa...
Article
Bangladesh’s garments workers have served as both an emblem of that country’s rapid social and economic progress, and of the precarities of labour in global value chains. Based on an understanding of how disaster politics have played out in Bangladesh’s history, this article explores whether and how the Rana Plaza disaster has been a critical junct...
Article
Questions of women's power remain a matter of heated debate globally, but take on a heightened intensity in a South Asia featuring rapid economic growth and structural transformation in recent decades. This Special Issue aims to improve understanding of how the women of South Asia are gaining and exercising power and of the obstacles and backlash t...
Article
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The IPES-Food framework calls for closer attention to power relations across the levels of the global food system, and to feedbacks and cycles throughout the system. This article responds to this call with an account of how the purchasing and protest power of low-income consumers shaped and was shaped by local, national, and global food systems, th...
Article
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Few big countries … have had their fortunes so profoundly shaped by a weak position in the global system.
Book
Why have many developing countries that have succeeded in expanding access to education made such limited progress on improving learning outcomes? There is a growing recognition that the learning crisis constitutes a significant dimension of global inequality and also that educational outcomes in developing countries are shaped by political as well...
Chapter
The universalization of basic education was set to be one of the great policy successes of the twentieth century, yet millions are still unenrolled, and many of those who attended school learned little. The ‘learning crisis’ now dominates the global education policy agenda, yet little is understood of why education quality reforms have had so littl...
Chapter
Why has Bangladesh failed to raise quality in basic education after it so successfully expanded school provision? This chapter explores the politics of both Bangladesh’s successful expansionary, and its lagged efforts to tackle the persistently poor quality of basic education. Using a political settlements lens, it shows how the competitive but cli...
Chapter
This chapter consolidates findings from the country cases to offer insight into the politics of education reform. It argues that the education sector presents different resources and incentives to political elites, and as such, the political settlement has a direct bearing on the potential for, and delivery of, reforms. At a national level, politic...
Chapter
Politics is increasingly recognized to shape education outcomes in the global South, but there is little agreement on which forms of politics really matter, or how to conceptualize or investigate them. This chapter outlines the main approaches and findings from the existing literature, before setting out a new framework for analysis, organized arou...
Research
This brief presents a summary of key issues in research on women’s empowerment, drawn from an APRA working paper commissioned to support the design of APRA’s research on pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa. In the context of African agriculture, as women move along different pathways of commercialisation, the source of their disemp...
Research
Much of the debate about agricultural commercialisation offers simplistic, dichotomous comparisons between, for example, large and small-scale farming, or export-oriented and domestic markets. There is often an assumption that there is one ideal type of commercialisation that can be realised through investment and policy intervention. Yet in practi...
Article
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What does closing civic space mean for development? Aid donors are concerned about the implications of restrictions on civil society for their partners and programmes, but to date there has been little clarity about what this means for development. This paper summarises the findings of a literature review in support of research on this issue. It co...
Article
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How do popular protests about the basics of everyday life, specifically about energy, come about in settings where political authority is fragmented and conflict and repression common? How do state and political actors respond to protests which disrupt social and economic life, and undermine public authority? To what extent do such mass protests, o...
Article
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How do popular protests about the basics of everyday life, specifically about energy, come about in settings where political authority is fragmented and conflict and repression common? How do state and political actors respond to protests which disrupt social and economic life, and undermine public authority? To what extent do such mass protests, o...
Article
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This paper explores the framing of ‘food riots’ in the international media during the global food crisis period of 2007–12. This is an important issue because the international media’s overly simplistic treatment of food-related protests as caused by hunger leading to anger and violence, dominates public discourse, informing both global policy disc...
Article
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Participatory research studies utilizing qualitative data drawn from large, diverse samples appear increasingly common in the social sciences, particularly in international development. This reflects demand for participatory approaches to researching human well-being at scale, comparative research on globalization and development, and breadth and s...
Article
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Bangladesh is widely deemed to have made rapid progress on gender equality and women's empowerment. How to understand the apparent advances of women in a poor, populous, Muslim-majority country in the belt of classic patriarchy? This paper locates the origins of these changes in the immediate aftermath of Bangladesh's struggle for independence in 1...
Research
This paper was commissioned to support the research design activities of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Consortium, generating new evidence on pathways to agricultural commercialisation, on the theme of social difference and women’s empowerment. First, the paper explores methodological approaches and key concepts that underpin th...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the framing of ‘food riots’ in the international media during the global food crisis period of 2007-12. This is an important issue because the international media’s overly simplistic treatment of food-related protests as caused by hunger leading to anger and violence, dominates public discourse, informing both global policy disc...
Book
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Thousands of people in dozens of countries took to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011. What does the persistence of popular mobilization around food tell us about the politics of subsistence in an era of integrated food markets and universal human rights? This book interrogates this period of historical rupture in the global...
Article
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Why has Bangladesh failed to raise quality in basic education when it successfully expanded school provision? This paper explores this problem through analysis of the influence of the political settlement on the design and delivery of the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3), an US$8bn education reform plan. From document review, k...
Article
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The devastating Bhola cyclone in November 1970 is credited with having triggered the political events that led to the division of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. A callous response to the disaster by the Pakistani regime resulted in a landslide electoral victory for Bengali nationalists, followed by a bitter and bloody civil war. Y...
Book
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The global food crisis of 2007-11 brought about lasting changes to the relationship between the work low-income people do and the food they eat. Research conducted by IDS, Oxfam and research partners in ten countries found the cost of these changes went uncounted. Higher food prices led to more precarious work and changing diets. Social protection...
Research
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Draft for comment, please! Life was never quite the same for many millions of people on low and precarious incomes after the food crisis of 2008-11...
Technical Report
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Each year, the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility research project tracks global, national and local food prices and their effects on everyday life, and selects a special topic for focused research. Delicious, Disgusting, Dangerous: Eating in a Time of Food Price Volatility is the third synthesis report, and this year it turns the spotlight on...
Article
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This article sets out the thinking behind the research methodology used in the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility project. It sets out the key questions and aims, describes the approach, and explains why we chose the research design we did. It discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology, and concludes with reflections on the (inc...
Article
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Despite the growing activism and debate around the right to food in the past decade, there has been little exploration of what the right means in everyday life and in the routine encounters between states and citizens. This paper draws together original qualitative research in nine African, Asian and Latin American countries on how people talk abou...
Article
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The wave of food riots since 2007 revived interest in why people protest in periods of dearth, yet research has to date failed to make sense of the political cultures of food protests. The concept of the moral economy in European history is explored here to make sense of contemporary political perspectives on how food markets should work in Banglad...
Article
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Who wants to farm? In an era of land grabs and environmental uncertainty, improving smallholder productivity has become a higher priority on the poverty and food security agenda in development, focusing attention on the next generation of farmers. Yet emerging evidence about the material realities and social norms and desires of young people in dev...
Article
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This article argues that rapid recent global economic shocks have revealed a poor man's patriarchy – a washed-out version of ancient male privileges, but yoked to responsibilities poor men can rarely meet. At the same time, norms that helped keep women at home in unpaid care roles have weakened and paid work is an ambition for more and more. Drawin...
Article
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This article aggregates qualitative field research from sites in 17 developing countries to describe crisis impacts and analyse how people coped with the food, fuel, and financial crises during 2008–2011. The research uncovered significant hardships behind the apparent resilience, with widespread reports of food insecurity, debt, asset loss, stress...
Article
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High and rising food prices no longer come as a surprise, but rapid price changes and the cumulative effects of five years’ worth of price rises are still squeezing those on low incomes. People are working harder over longer hours and their wages are not keeping pace with inflation, so they are having to adapt wherever, and however, possible. The f...
Article
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While security and women's empowerment are both prominent development concerns, there has to date been little sustained analysis of the relationship between the two. An unexamined assumption appears to be that insecurity – violence and rights abuses – prevent women from gaining power over their lives through full social, economic or political parti...
Article
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This paper surveys qualitative crisis monitoring data from sites in 17 developing and transition countries to describe crisis impacts and analyze the responses and sources of support used by people to cope. These crises included shocks to export sectors as a result of the global financial crisis, as well as food and fuel price volatility, in the pe...
Article
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Bangladesh has become known as something of a success in advancing gender equality since the 1990s. There have been rapid gains in a number of social and economic domains, yet by most objective standards the current condition and status of women and girls within Bangladeshi society remain low. Rapid progress has come about under conditions of mass...
Article
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How has the well‐being of children and young people been affected by the global food, fuel and financial crises that have struck since 2007? This article reports empirical findings from qualitative research in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Yemen and Zambia in 2009 and 2010. Intended to complement the wider body of mainly quantitative evide...
Article
The major global crises of the past four years – financial, fuel, food, climate – have collectively had a dramatic impact on people's lives and livelihoods. Have they also had a large impact on core ideas underlying mainstream development? Drawing on a number of Reimagining Development case studies and on a much wider literature, this article exami...
Article
Events since 2008 have crystallised a view that global economic shocks are more likely, more complex and more contagious than in the past. Public sector spending (including aid) has been shrinking since the economic crisis, while poverty and inequality have risen in both developed and developing countries. Yet the space for new understandings of ho...
Article
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As Bangladesh turns 40, improvements in women's wellbeing and increased agency are claimed to be some of the most significant gains in the post-independence era. Various economic and social development indicators show that in the last 20 years, Bangladesh, a poor, Muslim-majority country in the classic patriarchal belt, has made substantial progres...