Development discourse occupies an ambiguous position in the South African context. It is pre-eminently an academic discipline (similar in standing to public administration, personnel management and so on). This might suggest that its contribution to ideological mobilization would be limited since, as Therborn has pointed out, the rarest and most limited form of interpellation is ‘an elaborate written text speaking directly to a solitary reader’ (Therborn 1982:77). Yet its sphere of influence is more extensive and its impact on South African society has been more far-reaching than that of any conventional academic discipline.