A1 Journal article (refereed)
Interpreting the Sustainable Development Goals through the Perspectives of Utopia and Governance (2021)

Eskelinen, T. (2021). Interpreting the Sustainable Development Goals through the Perspectives of Utopia and Governance. Forum for Development Studies, 48(2), 179-197. https://doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2020.1867889

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Eskelinen, Teppo

Journal or series: Forum for Development Studies

ISSN: 0803-9410

eISSN: 1891-1765

Publication year: 2021

Publication date: 14/01/2021

Volume: 48

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 179-197

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2020.1867889

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/74036


The article analyses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective of their self-understanding of political sense expressed in key SDG documents, including both UN documents and reports produced by individual countries. Utopia and governance are presented as ideal-typical approaches and analytical tools for qualitative content analysis. This approach is argued to be particularly illuminating in the case of politics of international development, as international development is simultaneously highly utopian and deeply embedded in rationalities of governance. As this analytical framework is applied to the SDGs, it is shown that their utopian pronouncements are related to the idea of humanity as a single subject, as well as inclusive prosperity. On the other hand, the SDGs are curtailed by adherence to the ideas of contemporary governance, the international order and given ideas of development economics. The findings and the methodology are then further discussed in the broader context of international development.

Keywords: sustainable development; target programmes; utopias; international organisations; development policy; development research

Free keywords: sustainable development goals; utopia; governance; United Nations; international development; document analysis

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-14-09 at 11:49