James H. Mittelman
Development cannot be separated from global political economy, but it is an inherent component of the latter. The concept of development was popularized through expansion of colonization, and underwent various transformations as the socio-political structure of the world changed over time. Thus, the central task of development theory is to determine and explain why some countries are underdeveloped and how these countries can develop. Such theories draw on a variety of social science disciplines and approaches. Accordingly, different development paradigms have emerged upon which different scholars have shown profound interests and to which they gave extensive criticisms—modernization, dependency, Marxism, postcolonialism, and globalization. With the recent emergence of the post-modern critique of development, power has become an important subject in the discourse of development. Nevertheless, a full theoretical understanding of the relations between power and development is still in its fledgling stage. Though highly apparent in human societies, social power per se is a polylithic discourse with no unified definition and implication, which has led different proponents of development paradigms to understand power differently. Although there is a dialectic contradiction between the different dialogic paradigms, the reality of development theory is that there is a large choice of theories and models from which field practicioners will draw pragmatically the most appropriate elements, or they will create their own model adapted to the situation.
Steven W. Hook and Franklin Barr Lebo
International development has remained a key part of global economic relations since the field emerged more than half a century ago. From its initial focus on colonization and state building, the field has evolved to encompass a wide range of issues, theoretical problems, and disciplinary traditions. The year 1945 is widely considered as a turning point in the study of international development. Three factors account for this: the end of World War II that left the US an economic hegemon, the ideological rivalry that defined the Cold War, and the period of decolonization that peaked around 1960 that forced development issues, including foreign aid, state building, and multilateral engagement, onto the global agenda. Since then, development paradigms have continuously evolved, adapted, and been reinvented to address the persistent and arguably widening gap between the prosperous economies of the “developed North” and the developing and frequently troubled economies of the “global South.” Today, a loosely knit holistic paradigm has emerged that recognizes the deficiencies of its predecessors, yet builds on their strengths. A holistic conception of international development embraces methodological pluralism in the scholarly study of development, while recognizing the multiple ways policy practitioners may productively apply academic theories and research findings in unique settings.
Robert Bartlett and Priya Kurian
The fundamental conflicts and contradictions between environment and development, and various theoretical and practical efforts to reconcile them, have been a prominent part of the history of development thinking since environmentalism emerged as a significant political phenomenon in the 1960s. The idea of development as change for the better resonates perhaps with all civilizations and across time. All civilizations have development myths which reflect a self-awareness that a particular culture had at some time in the past advanced from a more primitive, less developed state. But these cultural myths of development are only incidentally material or economic. More pronounced concerns over the environment and development emerged during the 1960s and the 1970s. These decades were marked by the emergence of widespread public concern about environmental problems of air and water pollution, and the growth of the environmental movement led to national environmental policy developments and international efforts on the environmental front. In addition, development, environment, and sustainability are all normative concepts with implications for ethics and justice. The vast literature on sustainable development has spawned a range of critiques from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. The environmental justice literature developed after early sustainable development literature, and raises questions about intragenerational equity.
Shahadat Hossain and Michael Humphrey
Slums have generated renewed interest among scholars in the wake of rapid urbanization in the South and the growing incidence of urban poverty worldwide. This gave rise to the expression “expanding urban slums,” which refers to a phenomenon occurring in the Global South associated with “hyper-urbanization”— rapid urbanization beyond the capacity of the state or city to plan for, to provide services and housing for, to regulate urban environments or regulate the poor. The UN Challenge of Slums report describes two kinds of slums: “slums of hope” and “slums of despair.” Slums of hope are “progressing” settlements, characterized by new, normally self-built structures, usually illegal (e.g. squatters) that are in, or have recently been through, a process of development, consolidation and improvement. Slums of despair refer to “declining” neighborhoods, in which environmental conditions and domestic services are undergoing a process of degeneration. Earlier studies of slums differ from contemporary research in terms of the extent to which megaslums are emerging as a permanent feature of megacities. Contemporary studies of the “expanding slum” can be conceptualized as about different aspects of informalization of urban social, economic, and political processes. The literature on urban informality and informalization indicates that slums are not excluded spaces but integrated on different terms. Scholars must begin to develop more nuanced theories of urbanism in a globalizing world, and they can use the “gray zones” of Latin American cities as a starting point.
Christopher B. Barrett and Erin C. Lentz
Food plays an essential role in performance and well-being. Apart from its physiological necessity, food is also a source of pleasure. Since both biological needs for food and psychic satisfaction from food vary considerably among and within populations, coming up with precise, operationalizable measures of food security have proved problematic. Furthermore, the concept of food security encompasses not only current nutritional status but also vulnerability to future disruptions in one’s access to adequate and appropriate food. The complexity of the concept of food security has given rise to scores, if not hundreds, of different definitions of the term “food security.” As a result, there have also been variations in thinking about the proximate manifestations and direct and indirect causes and consequences of “food insecurity,” the complement to “food security.” Food security is commonly conceptualized as resting on three pillars that are inherently hierarchical: availability, access, and utilization. Some agencies, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have added a fourth dimension: stability. Food insecurity is often used interchangeably with the terms “hunger,” “undernutrition,” and “malnutrition.” Threats to food insecurity may be classified as either “covariate” or “idiosyncratic.” Based on these threats, various interventions have been implemented to promote food security by means of increasing availability (improving agricultural productivity), promoting access (economic growth and assistance programs such as food stamps or vouchers, food aid delivery, food banks, school lunch programs), or improving utilization (supplementary feeding programs, therapeutic feeding programs).
Timothy Gorman and Wendy W. Wolford
Organization by rural landless movements has been the primary factor driving the implementation of land reform projects. At the heart of land reform is a debate over the very nature of both property and rights within and between socialist and capitalist economic systems of the modern era. One common interpretation of the development of property rights was articulated by Karl Marx, who argued that capitalism was made possible through theft of common land by a rising bourgeois class. The issue of private property rights in land emerged as a crucial aspect of national socialist transformation in the early 1900s. Known as the “Agrarian Question,” it was first formulated by Karl Kautsky as both a political and economic question. Land distribution occurs today via three main mechanisms, which differ in their emphasis on market transactions, state appropriations, and grassroots mobilizations: the market, state, and civil society. Grassroots mobilization to demand access to land has been a key factor behind most if not all land distribution programs. There is a growing literature on the transnational peasant movement (TPM), but much of it is laudatory and descriptive, focusing on the formation of various movements and campaigns. Comparative work is needed to elucidate general trends and retain sensitivity to local conditions in the future. Furthermore, the literature on land reform must be interdisciplinary, with attention to economic issues, political factors, social relations (including power), and historical particularities.
Robin Gravesteijn and James Copestake
Microfinance refers to an array of financial services—including loans, savings, and insurance—available to poor entrepreneurs and small business owners who have no collateral and, otherwise, would not qualify for a standard bank loan. Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty. For many, microfinance is a way to promote economic development, employment, and growth through the support of micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses; for others, it is a way for the poor to manage their finances more effectively and take advantage of economic opportunities while managing the risks. One of the newer fields that is getting more attention within microfinance is the measure of microfinance institutions’ (MFIs) social performance, which broadly is an indication of how well an MFI meets the social goals outlined in its mission and vision. Social performance is reflected in a wide range of indicators, including an MFI’s policies towards employees, like providing health care or maternity leave; to what degree an MFI targets the poorest of the poor for financial services; an MFI’s policies on environmental conservation; how low an MFI keeps its interest rates; how transparent an MFI is about these interest rates and other loan terms; and how an MFI’s services translate into improved lives for their clients.
Development was born as aid, an expression of the modern obsession with “caring” used by disabling professions and the service industry. However, by 1980, it was already clear that there was no correlation between aid and economic growth, and that aid was an obstacle for social transformation. Development was also born in the context of the Cold War. For President Truman, the American way of life was a democratic and egalitarian ideal to overcome the communist “threat” by closing the gap between industrial and “underdeveloped” countries. In addition, development was a reaction to the initiatives of the colonized world, increasingly challenging Western domination. Since Truman, development has connoted at least one thing: to escape from the vague, indefinable, and undignified condition known as underdevelopment. However, the Age of Development—the historical period formally inaugurated in 1949—is now coming to an end. The future of development studies lies in archaeology, to explore the ruins it left behind by looking at development’s pre-history and conceptual history, as well as the development enterprise. Since the 1970s, new campaigns were launched to focus the effort in getting for the underdeveloped, at least, the fulfillment of their “basic needs.” Meanwhile, the “law of scarcity” was construed by the economists to denote the technical assumption that man’s wants are huge and infinite, whereas his means are limited though improvable. Poverty and development thus go hand in hand. Indeed, historical experience reveals that development generates poverty. By 1985, the idea of post-development has already emerged.
Valentine M. Moghadam
Economic development gained prominence as a field of economics after World War II in relation to the prospects of what came to be called underdeveloped, decolonizing, developing, or Third World countries. The period between the 1950s and 1980s saw the emergence of various theories of economic development and policy strategies, and the growth of “development studies” reflected cross-disciplinary interest in the subject. In the early decades, women received little or no attention. If women were discussed at all in policy circles, it was in relation to their role as mothers, an approach that came to be known as the welfare or motherhood approach. The field of women in development (WID) emerged in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, women’s participation and gender dynamics have evolved as central issues in the discourse and policies of international development. Along with changes in theories and policies of economic development, WID developed with distinct or overlapping fields known as women and development (WAD), gender and development (GAD), the efficiency approach, and the empowerment approach. Several basic themes can be identified from the literature on women and gender in development, including: all societies exhibit a division of labor by sex; economic development has had a differential impact on men and women, although the impact on women has tended to be conditioned by class and ethnicity; economic policy making and institutions have a gendered nature, and the ways in which macroeconomics and the social relations of gender influence each other.
Shirley V. Scott and Orli Zahava
The most fundamental characteristic of a developing state is that its income, usually calculated as gross national product (GNP) per capita, is relatively low in comparison with that of an industrial country. A second characteristic shared by most developing countries is that they are former colonies. In recognition of the diversity amongst developing countries, they are sometimes divided into subgroups. The term “Least Developed Country” is used to refer to some 50 of the most vulnerable states, whose economies are vastly smaller than those of China, India, Brazil, or Mexico. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is a group of states with emerging economies whose share of world trade, investment, and foreign currency reserve is projected to continue to grow. AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States, is a 44-member coalition that functions as a negotiating voice for small island developing states (SIDS) within the United Nations system. The engagement of developing countries with international law typically comes in four aspects: the colonial past and contemporary continuities in international legal approaches and categories, attempts by newly independent Third World states to transform international law through the introduction of specific new legal principles, the effect of the increasing gap between the emerging economies of certain developing countries and the most vulnerable developing states, and whether structural impediments remain to the equitable participation of developing countries in international law.