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Article

Gustavo Esteva

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.

Article

Priya Kurian and Robert V. Bartlett

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.

Article

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.

Article

The definition of development has changed over the years since the inception of development economics as a sub-discipline of economics in the 1950s. Initially, development economics was understood as a study of how the economies of nation-states have grown and expanded, placing the discipline in line with the classical and neoclassical traditions of economics. Later, however, some scholars focused on how to improve the welfare of the population and the planet informing the critical tradition. The post-war economic development models were fundamentally classical, but they did allow for some state intervention to achieve development, demonstrating the influence of economist John Maynard Keynes. Postwar leftist development economics coalesced around structuralism and dependency theory, or world systems theory, the latter two having their roots in Marxist political economy. This influenced state-led development approaches most associated with the Asian Tigers. In the 1980s, neoliberal ideas came to dominate development economics, however the high social costs of this approach led to a greater focus on poverty, while more progressive scholars emphasized capabilities and redistribution with growth. Since the Global Financial Crisis, questioning of neoclassical economics has grown and, while it is still far from dead, more heterodox approaches are flourishing.

Article

The history of development studies as a field of academic inquiry can be traced most directly back to the Cold War era when public funding for “development studies” went hand in hand with international development as a state project, particularly in the United States. Economists, sociologists, and planners began to take the development of the “Third World” as an object of analysis, partially in response to new funding opportunities and a discursive context legitimating it as a field of study. By the 1960s, geographers began to take (so-called) “Third World” modernization and development as an object of research. Geographers’ engagement with development as intervention, and eventually the exploration of uneven global development as part of the “ebb and flow of capitalism,” can be divided into three waves. The first wave, visible in the early 1960s, took the quantitative spatial models dominant at the time in geography, such as those concerning urbanization patterns, transportation linkages, regional development, and population movement, and began to apply them to “Third World” contexts. This second wave, linked to the turn toward Marxist theory by a new generation of geographers in the 1960s, explored the uneven geography of wealth and power produced by capitalism and launched a powerful critique of development intervention as imperialism. The third wave of debates emerged in the late 1980s–early 1990s and is associated with poststructural and postcolonial critiques gaining traction at the time in geography and related disciplines.

Article

Sally J. Matthews

Postdevelopment theory is a compelling and controversial field of thought in contemporary development studies. It gained prominence during the 1990s, when it sparked fierce debate, but its influence has since waned somewhat. This chapter summarizes the contribution of postdevelopment theory to development studies and, more generally, to international studies. Postdevelopment theory’s key contribution was a stringent and multifaceted critique of the idea of development. The critique offered by postdevelopment thinkers went beyond other critical engagements with development theory, in that it sought to reject, rather than reform, development. The critique was strongly informed by concerns about Westernization and by an associated desire to validate, protect, and revive non-Western ways of life. Furthermore, postdevelopment theorists adopt a critical stance toward globalization, seeking to defend the local against the global. After reviewing postdevelopment theory’s radical critique of development, the article provides an overview of critical engagements with postdevelopment theory. Critics have been particularly concerned about postdevelopment theorists’ reluctance or inability to move beyond critique in order to clearly outline possible alternatives to development. While this critique is well founded, the article does describe the ways in which some of the recent work by postdevelopment writers has begun to take on a more constructive character. The chapter concludes that post-development theory is relevant not only to those interested in development theory, but also to all those interested in thinking of alternatives to the capitalist, industrialized way of life that has for so long been held up as an ideal toward which all should strive.

Article

There are three key literatures on the political economy of development that all emphasize the importance of institutions, but in different and somewhat contradictory ways. These literatures focus on developmental states, good governance, and political economic pathways. The developmental states literature is based largely on case studies of East Asian countries that have, since about 1950, largely “caught up” to the already developed nations in Europe, North America, and the Antipodes. The central conclusion of this literature has been that successful late development requires a competent, committed state bureaucracy, independent enough to be capable of imposing its will on domestic businesspeople, but also sufficiently connected to them so as to make good decisions about what will to impose. The literature focusing on good governance, based largely in economics, also sees state actions and characteristics as keys to positive development outcomes. But while the developmental states literature argues that states need to play an interventionist role in “governing” markets (including not infrequently restricting them), the good governance literature usually looks more favorably on free markets. Finally, research in the political economic pathways literature tends to examine much longer periods of time than the other two literatures, and typically emphasizes economic and political developmental outcomes as joint products of differences in the historical trajectories followed by different countries. The key explanatory variables for this literature are a country’s circumstances in the colonial period, and levels and types of social inequality.

Article

Human development as a concept seeks to make individuals the driving force behind state development. Even though international organizations (IOs) are formal agreements by and for the benefit of member states and have historically prioritized states’ interests, it can still be argued that human beings have long been the central concern of many IOs, even for some of the oldest surviving ones today. Nowadays, the human development framework appears to serve as the principal intellectual and normative construct regarding how to achieve national economic growth while building broad social justice and opportunity for individuals. Its allure derives as much from its coherent philosophical critique of past empirical development failures as it does from its incorporation of values and ethics appealing to a broad spectrum of professionals working in the development community. The human development approach was in part necessitated by the monopolization of economic development by states even from the advent of the enterprise in the 1950s. But despite the widespread adoption of the human development framework as an operative concept in the practice of development, it is not without controversy. Most of the critique is directed toward the underlying premises of the capabilities approach and the elements its adherents must elucidate in order to effectively implement its tenets in policy.

Article

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.

Article

Environmental sustainability as a topic in international studies is most often considered in the context of sustainable development, a goal-oriented, normative concept that suggests the need to reconcile the often conflicting goals of economic development, environmental protection, and social progress. The concept of sustainable development begs the question of how to promote human welfare and prosperity (development) without undermining the ecological life-support systems on which all prosperity ultimately must depend (sustainability). More colloquially: How can we live well while living lightly on the Earth? Unfortunately, economic and social “development” to date has too often meant a steady increase of activities that have led to air and water pollution, cleared forests, drained wetlands, obstructed rivers, and other ecosystem disruptions. These material transformations alter the structure and function of ecosystems, often destroying the services that ecosystems provide and routinely renew: clean fresh water, healthy air, fertile soils, and the other basics of habitability. When pollution crosses borders, when natural resource depletion and environmental degradation cause people to migrate for survival, when global climate and the world’s oceans are threatened, then sustainability becomes an international concern and necessarily a focus of international studies. Ultimately, the challenge for international studies scholars studying sustainability is to understand how to create an international system imbued with consideration of ecological interdependence and coevolution, a sense of responsibility to future generations, and a capacity to make informed decisions based on ecological rationality. In order to find our way out of the sustainability conundrum, policies must be designed to improve welfare without increasing energy and material throughput. This means investing human resources into alternatives to consumption, such as innovations in simple living, collective action, nonmaterial personal satisfaction, and needs prevention.

Article

Robert M. Bosco

The study of religion and development focuses on how the moral and ethical resources of the world’s major faith traditions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism might tame the worst excesses of market civilization. Whereas states, corporations, and international development institutions often define “development” as economic growth and all of the adjustments required to achieve it, religious approaches consider the consequences of this conception of development and recommend that the achievement of material gain be tempered by compassion, conscience, a greater concern for social equity, and a responsible application of science and technology to both the social and natural worlds. The origins of the field of religion and development can be traced back to Max Weber's seminal investigations into the elective affinities between Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism. In the 1980s, the majority of scholarly literature grappled with the meaning and significance of Weber’s basic ideas in various contexts and locales as scholars examined whether, when, and how religious traditions enhance or inhibit development at the international, regional, national, or community levels of analysis. After a period of hibernation, the study of religion and development was reenergized in the late 1990s as religious leaders and faith-based organizations played a central role in challenging the policies and practices of international development institutions, especially the World Bank.

Article

David Arase

As a policy tool, aid has not been confined to the roles that foreign and economic policy theorists have prescribed for it. Foreign aid attracts controversy because it structures how global poverty will be addressed. Aid’s proponents believe that it can eradicate absolute poverty and close the income gap between rich and poor countries, but its critics believe it holds out only false hope and obscures the real nature of the problem. The unrequited transfer of wealth from a weak nation to a stronger one is an ancient tradition, but the notion that it would be powerful nations transferring wealth to advance the economic development of weaker ones was virtually unheard of until the post-World War II era, particularly during the highly polarized Cold War climate. During this time, aid was used as a means of competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for influence over Third World countries. Aid also became a tool for opening up the markets of the developing world and integrating them into the global economy. The fact that foreign aid has come to mean development assistance since has raised a series of questions debated in the scholarly literature. Moreover, it is universally acknowledged that donors use aid to achieve objectives other than development and poverty reduction.

Article

M. Leann Brown

Sustainable development (SD) is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition is articulated in Our Common Future, a political manifesto published in 1987 by the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). SD promises to resolve in a positive-sum manner the most daunting economic, environmental, political, and social challenges the world is currently facing. However, it has also become a much contested concept, mainly due to the comprehensiveness, ambiguity, and optimism inherent in its underlying assumptions. Ongoing debates within the literature deal with how to define, operationalize, and measure SD; how economic development and environmental protection are conceptualized as mutually supportive; how “nature” is treated in the literature; equity and overconsumption challenges to SD; and the governance, social learning, and normative transformations required to achieve SD. Reaching some consensus on definitions and operationalization of the multiple aspects of SD will lead to standards by which to assess development and environmental policies. Among the most urgent issues that must be addressed in future research are the roles and influence of the relatively new participants in governance, such as intergovernmental/nongovernmental organizations and corporations; the new modes of governance including public-private and private-private partnerships and network governance; and the impacts of implementing compatible and contradictory policies on the various levels and across policy areas.

Article

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.

Article

Over the last six decades, discussions and approaches to communication and development have evolved considerably. Some of these changes particularly focus on the transformation of the nation-state role, from its initial conception to its current formation, as well as the transition from the study of political and economic progress to the analysis of cultural components and social development today. These major approaches include modernization, diffusion of innovation, dependency paradigm, monistic-emancipatory approach, institutional theory approach, industrial policy, strategic restructuring model, evolutionary paradigm, interorganizational approach, ecosystem approach, and an approach that highlights culture, power, age, gender and disability dimensions. Part of this investigation includes research trends in communication and development. Scholarship identifying such trends highlights newer technologies as well as a continuing presence of digital inequalities. Additional research is needed to capture processes such as cross-organizational and cross-cultural learning and improvisation in terms of communication and development, and to recognize the roles of power and culture in these domains. Furthermore, taking a co-processes approach prevents one from assuming that there is only one correct pathway in the field of communication and development

Article

As an interdisciplinary approach, evolutionary systems theory borrows from fields such as statistical physics and evolutionary biology, as well as economics and others, to build on their insights from studies of environments—as systems—and the behavior of actors within those environments—their agency. It provides a bridge between existing and divergent but related strings of research of particular systemic elements as a unifying macro-theory of our social and physical world, fusing multiple approaches into a common model. The unifying key is the focus on the behavior of agents (e.g., individuals, groups, cities, states, world systems) as it relates to the environment (both natural and social) in which these agents act and the feedback between behavior and environment. Evolutionary systems approaches can broadly be placed into two categories: the biobehavioral and the social-evolutionary approaches to the study of international relations with the help of evolutionary theory. The point of evolutionary explanations is not to make the case that humans are incapable of making their own choices—far from it. Learning and selection are critical elements of human agency in evolutionary models. Rather, evolutionary systems theory also includes in its models the structural capacity to make those choices, which derives from and depends on previous choices made, a process also bound by our biological evolution or alternatively by our cognitive limitations and available structural selection mechanisms, regardless of the relative complexity of human learning capacity.

Article

Wolfram Dressler and Sally Babidge

The changes in anthropological theory and perspectives on identity and difference can be explored in the context of three major periods of development: the colonial, postcolonial, and postdevelopment periods. In the colonial era, anthropologists drew heavily on the idea of social evolution located in the works of Herbert Spencer, Lewis Henry Morgan, and E.B. Tylor. In their work, lower-order “savages” (i.e., indigenous people) were thought to evolve socioculturally into higher-order, “civilized” Europeans. In the postcolonical period, the wave of independence throughout much of the developing world led social anthropologists to interpret how different groups came to self-identify with people and situations in a relational sense in an emerging postcolonial context. Ethnographers considered how people identified with certain social and cultural characteristics as being contingent upon their shared understanding of these features in relation to group membership and how others perceived such characteristics. Since the 1990s, social anthropologists have considered conceptions of indigeneity and other identity work with greater nuance, focusing on the layered processes that constitute identity. Recent scholarly contributions have considered how and why people have socially constructed their identities through reflections of self, sociopolitical positions, and culture relative to individual and group experiences in society. In particular, three intellectual streams have begun to reconceptualize identity formation: social positioning, articulation, and transnational identity building.

Article

Several resources are available for teaching global development. Textbooks, for instance, often follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the self-determination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development, critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders. Other resources include resources include numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies, including the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, and Development and Change. Among nonacademic resources are nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” that produce development programming, data, and analysis. Interactive methods, media, and educational resources are also recommended for teaching of global development. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances.

Article

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), endorsed by 189 governments at the Millennium Summit, propose a concerted global effort to reduce the incidence of severe poverty and many of its most serious manifestations over a twenty-five-year period. The MDGs offer crucial insights into the politics of poverty and poverty reduction in international affairs. Their political dimensions can be analyzed in terms of agency, the nature and limits of accountability, the use and manipulation of quantitative goals for political ends, the dangerous illusion that MDG objectives can be accomplished in large part by mobilizing more development assistance, and the MDGs’ distinctly apolitical approach to the structural causes of poverty. The MDG initiative should be situated in three ongoing streams of debate and discussion: the debate over the relative priority of growth and of human development for poverty reduction; the tension between the assertion of rights and the enunciation of donor-driven goals as the political engine of poverty reduction; and the debate over the roles of markets and of state direction and regulation. While the MDGs concentrate on increasing aid flows to reduce the incidence of poverty and its manifestations, international trade and finance arrangements too often impede rapid progress. This is evident in water privatization, trade rules, and anti-retroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS patients. A way forward is to integrate the MDGs more deeply with human rights guarantees. Donors, for example, must take seriously the 2002 Draft Guidelines for the application of human rights to poverty reduction strategies.

Article

Lands of recent settlement refers to countries settled predominantly by European migration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand. Current scholarship on the lands of recent settlement reveals a very active agenda of comparative studies covering a broad range of areas and issues: culture, institutions, gender, ethnicity, labor, national identity, geography, ecology, environment, noneconomic factors of growth, and transnationalization and globalization. In explaining the different levels of development between lands of recent settlement and the rest of the world, traditional explanations pointed to propitious external factors and factor endowments. These explanations include the analysis of the history of the United States based on the notion of “frontier development” and the staple theory of growth. Meanwhile, recent works debate whether institutions, culture, or geography plays a crucial role. These works focus on the social, domestic, geographic, and biological elements of development, the cultural and institutional legacy of colonialism, as well as questions on gender, ethnic, and national identity. Although they do not reject the importance of foreign demand, capital, and labor in explaining the development of the lands of recent settlement, they question the adequacy of interpretations based solely on economic factors. Ultimately, the most important contribution of the study of development of lands of recent settlement is in the area of an analysis of transnational networks and globalization.