Chapter 25

Michael M. Cernea: Policy and Development in the World Bank
Thomas Weaver

Social Organization and Development Anthropology
Michael M. Cernea

Michael Cernea (1933–) has been employed for many years at the World Bank, beginning in 1974 as the bank’s first in-house sociologist. Trained in sociology at the University of Bucharest, Romania, he has been an effective advocate for the use of social scientists in development projects and was instrumental in the creation of a career line for social scientists at the World Bank, where over 140 sociologists and anthropologists were employed by the mid-1990s. In his 1995 Malinowski Award address, Cernea emphasized the importance of promoting a theoretical applied anthropology and of improving social scientists’ training in policy and practical issues and economists’ and technologists’ training in social sciences. He encouraged social scientists to engage in “intellectual combat” with economists to create a better approach to development. Development, he argued, is not about commodities or technologies, but about people and their institutions.

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