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Rights and Riches

Exploring the Moral Discourse of Norwegian Development Aid


Kjetil Fretheim

Development aid has recently become an important part of international politics in general and Norwegian foreign policy in particular. This study explores the moral discourse of contemporary Norwegian development aid organisations and professional development workers.
Adopting a discourse-analytical and multi-disciplinary approach, key concepts such as human rights, charity, justice and compassion are discussed. Furthermore, the notions of professionalism and partnerships in development are addressed, as well as the role and life-style of the individual development worker.
The following development agencies have been analysed: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Church Aid, Save the Children Norway, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Twenty-three staff members and representatives of these organisations have been interviewed.
Contents: Speaking of development aid – Studying moral discourse – International and national setting – The aid agencies – Function: The development worker role - Tasks and responsibilities - Challenges and frustrations – Motivation: Initial motivation - Present motivation – Working for an agency – Governmental and non-governmental aid – Understanding development aid – Rights and responsibilities – Charity, compassion, and solidarity – Justice: Reacting to injustice - Distributive justice - Rectificatory justice – Partners in development – Facilitating development – Individual lifestyle – Discourse of rights and riches.