The issue on how to achieve development had gained a huge arena of talk on the development field but it is not alone in the limelight, even the concept of ‘development’ had gained many significant issues and changes, as well. Defining ‘development’ from the beginning is a debate among different perspectives and theories and applying the concepts is more of a struggle, most of the times, in developing nations because of the very nature of the term. Remenyi (in Kingsbury, 2004) explained that the concept of development has undergone a significant change since the end of the Second World War.
The term ‘development’ in its present sense dates from the postwar era of modern development thinking (Pieterse, 2010) . Given the diversity in the conceptualization of development, different schools of thought, in their attempt to explain, tends to overlap. This overall multiplicity of definitional debates includes a general agreement on the view that ‘development’ encompasses continuous change in a ‘variety’ of aspects of human society (Sumner and Tribe 2008). The attempt to further explain and examine the concept of development is a continuous and a controversial process.
It is but a must to continue the discussion by giving a few definitions and perspectives on the concept of development. In strictly economic terms, development has traditionally meant the capacity of a national economy, whose initial economic condition has been more or less static for a long time… (Todaro, 2003) . Among the people behind the traditional explanations on development were Kurt Martin, Ricardo and Marx. They were regarded as classical political economists who viewed development similarly as economic development.
On the other hand, Hegel saw world history as a process of development, ‘a progression to the better’ (Leys, 1996) . Remenyi (in Kingsbury, 2004), coming from a different perspective in comparison to the traditional view point of development, view development as a process directed at the outcomes encapsulating improved standards of living and greater capacity for self- reliance in economies that are technically more complex and more dependent on global integration than before. Another view on development is given by Bjorn Hettne as cited by Pieterse (2004).
Development in the modern sense, according to Hettne, implies intentional social change in accordance with societal objectives. One of the most influential definitions of the concept development came from Amartya Sen. Sen (2000) , in his work, viewed development as a process of expanding the real freedom that people enjoy. This view gave birth to the human development approach in the mid- 1980’s. With the human development came the understanding of development as capacitation (Pieterse, 2010). This view had also been the background of the renowned Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The explanations of various scholars and schools of thought to development vary from the economic to historical to societal to the human aspect of development. With this, we can say that the attempt to explain, define and understand the nature of development has been controversial and unstable over time but the instability of the definition can be explained depending on a number of backgrounds- may be it ideology, time frame, historical and/ or cultural contexts- that dominated the sphere of influence at a specific period of time.
Explaining development as a concept is an issue behind so many issues. Questions, not only on the definitions, but also in the application of the concepts and the theories were being raised over time, not to mention the controversies on debunking the conceptualization of development. Development Theory: Struggles, Trends and Discourse [T]he aim is to restore development to its rightful place at the heart of contemporary social thought and to combat the tendency to treat it is a specialized sub- discipline. (Pieterse, 2010)
After the dominating scholarly discussions in the 1950’s, the height of interest in development theories began to decline during the 1980’s. As explained by Schuurman (1993) : Many developing countries will remember the 1980’s as the lost decade. The same assessment could perhaps be applied to the field of development theory. Especially from the mid- 1980’s onwards, an increasing number of publications outlined the contours of what became known as ‘the impasse in development theory’. Development theory faced a lot of criticisms and was tagged to be in crisis. Development theory had been underestimated in the social science.
It is quite surprising that the status of development theory was put into question because of its ‘merely’ concerns in the south (developing countries). Aside from the questionable status because of the focus of the discipline, development theory was also put into question when most of the developing states didn’t really develop. This can be explained because of the dominant figures and patterns of development theories from the north that had been trying so hard to be applied in the south (without even analyzing important features of developing states/ nations, i. e. ulture, history, social and political backgrounds).
One of the reasons why the PWWII (Post World War II) development project can be considered to be misconceived is because it is based on the universalization of Western experience, and does not take into account the diversity of experiences, needs and aspirations of those it claims to assist (Matthews, 2004) . The ignorance of development theories and development discourse and the failure to recognize the experiences and knowledge of the South is one of the reasons for the failure of the development discourse to countries being assisted.
Development theories and development discourses might find its way back to the limelight of scholarly talks when it acknowledge the fact that there is a lack of inclusivity on the process and the views of development that is dominating at present, thus a need to review on the whole development discourse is highly needed. Homogenization of Development Western hegemony had been influencing the stream of thought and perspective of the development field. The notion that the raw materials and the data will be coming from the south while the production of knowledge will be generated from the north (Pieterse, 2010) is really questionable.
It gives an explanation that what is happening in the ‘south’ have to be interpreted and devised by the ‘north’ which do not have or have less idea on the realities and background of these states or nations. The hegemonization of the discipline had brought about concerns and problems and stagnation to countries that had been areas for application. “It can be assumed that also many indigenous peoples want changes and modernisation, but one could fear that they will not be given the opportunity to find their own solutions in the political environment that both includes and excludes them.
Human development and education are some of the most fundamental instruments to modernisation, but for ideological and political as well as for cultural reasons there can be discrepancies in the interpretation of the concepts” (Jensen, 2007) . The importance of the inside view on development discourses allows the participatory aspect of development that is very vital in the process. The failure to recognize the needs, background and culture, as well as experiences, of the countries excludes the country itself from the development process.
Human Development Report: Which Development? Whose Development Development had been viewed in a very Westernized perspectives, thus, the birth of the renowned Human Development Reports came about. The first Human Development Report was published in the 1990. Supposedly, it had been the brainchild of an Asian (Pakistani) economist that gave a view on the Asian (Southern) perspective in the development but as it developed, the more Westernized it became. The multi-dimensional approach claim of the Human Development Report did not really address the problem of the failure to take account the Southern experiences and knowledge in the area of development discourse.
The criteria and the indicators of development (health, education and income) can measure development but in a very limited sense. It can measure development in those- health, education and income- area alone but not the holistic development that most of developing countries are trying to imagine. The Human Development Reports, obviously, gained an audience of states and nations and governments but is also facing the question of “whose development is it catering? ”. But even before the birth of the Human Development Report, the birth of controlling monetary institutions paved way for more dependency of the south to the north.
The Bretton Woods, which gave birth to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Rural Development (IBRD), which is now the World Bank (WB), made the north more powerful and influential in dictating the development process in ‘aided’ countries. These institutions, too, are the reasons why there is domination in the world of currency and monetary policies. Remenyi (in Kingsbury, 2004) emphasized that the creation of the Bretton woods institutions were to dominate the environment within which international development and official development assistance were to be administered.
The “World? View: The North and the South Development and the development field had been in crisis and in question since the start of 1980’s. The question on what type of development and who’s development have to be followed had been left unanswered. The failure of development in some parts of Latin America and in Africa, despite receiving regular official development aids (ODA) put development theories in question and in crisis. Development is a field and a discourse full of issues in hegemony and counter- hegemony. Different stakeholders have different takes on what development means and how to achieve it (Pieterse, 2010).
This view will give an image that even the meaning and background of the concept of development is uncertain. The powerful perspective wins and the development process of this winning perspective will be, more or less, reviewed and accepted. As restated, development theory had been seen as a limited structure of perspective for it only focuses the south or the developing nations and had been underestimated in social science.
The division of the world in terms of economic order in the form of south- north bipolarism entails another issue f hegemonization. The conventional distinction between developing and developed societies is less and less relevant- the ‘south’ is in the ‘north’ and vice versa (Pieterse, 2010). Development from the Developing Countries’ Perspectives Western hegemonization of knowledge and knowledge formation had failed to take account the different cultural, societal and historical background of the developing countries. This case questions the credibility of development theories interpreted by the developed countries in the West.
It is high time to review the development theories and begin to interpret and acknowledge the presence of other factors that can affect the flow of development in one nation. Matthews (2004), in her study on the application of the post- development theory in Africa, emphasized that “[T]he failure of the PWWII development project, in Africa and the rest of the so-called ‘developing’ world, must be recognized. ” There is a need to review the development theories and development approaches applied in developing countries, especially when these were, first and foremost, generated by the north and with the Western perspective. “De-westernization”
It is not a new issue that there is a predominant explanation in the development discourse and the question of “whose development” should be addressed. In the perspective of the developing nations/ states, development had been more of a struggle rather than a challenge, especially when following the process dictated by the ‘outsiders’. Since, in the present times, there is a call for inclusive development, the need for the process, indicators and the holistic view of development must also be inclusive taking account the experiences, indicators and processes coming from the developing nations’ perspectives, thus a call for de-westernization.
De-westernization is, at a basic level, a political delinking from economic decisions . This calls for a more south- inclusive type of development approach. Conclusion The development discourse is in the era of losing its credibility and limelight. The need to review the development theories and the development discourse should be seen by the development theorists. Since, the problem on the hegemony has been called upon, the need for a more inclusive (south- inclusive) development is needed.
January 9, 2018
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