Key concepts in development geography 2.1

How can I study without being distractDG2.1ed every 15 minutes? Right. Write a blog post. Writing a blog post in an academic context is so much more fun than just making a summary nobody is ever going to see but you. So this is for the few people maybe interested in this subject. It helps me better understand what I’m reading. And hey.. isn’t a blog post supposed to reflect your mind? Or at least for me. It’s my sporadic internet diary. 


For the course Development Geography 2: Theory and Practice
Book: Key Concepts in Development Geography (Potter et al., 2012)
Chapter: 2.1 Modernity, Modernization, Postmodernism and Post-structuralism
Since I only use 1 book for information and some notes, I will still refer to the source but only at the end of the paragraph. (Hey! I’ve got enough stuff to write academically)

Briefly said, this course is about the diverse and plural nature of development thinking and practice and the continuous changes in both. About development issues such as unequal patterns of development, the gap between rich and poor and livelihoods.
Instead of boring you with all the theories discussed in this section since the early development decades of the 50s/60s/70s, I will just try to tell you the main point, though it might be necessary to tell something about theories.

As I just mentioned, development theories started to arise during the second half of the twentieth century. The modernization theories are the first to be discussed and stem from the 1950s/1960s era. Modernization theories basically focus on economic growth as development and see the Global South/Developing countries as uncivilized. Therefore industrialization has been at the center of development.

For development to take place, modernist changes had to occurjust like in Europe and the West (Power, 2008)

Basically, existing traditions in developing countries were rendered ineffective and these countries had to develop like ‘the West’ and the existing traditions were therefore overcome and replaced. The modern methods and institutions were thought to deliver progress and change in the developing countries (Potter et al., 2012, pp. 64-65)

DG2.1 psm11b

The modern era of development  did not bring the development and societal transformations 

There have been multidisciplinary dimensions of the modernization theories, such as sociological and psychological versions. Sociologists expected modern societal orders to grow at the expense of the former (traditions). As the external dynamics of modernization brought about societal change in which rationality, disenchantment with nature, social differentiation and specialization serve to distinguish modernizing societies from traditional (Potter et al., 2012, pp. 66-67).

Even though there are different dimensions of the modernization theories, the economic dimension has remained the most influential and ‘top-down’ approach. This is why it brought many problems in terms of development. There is little attention for political aspects and cultural differences, there is no contextualization.

 Not everybody wants to live in a suburban Californian scene
Not everyone can live like that.
* There are shared values, but beyond that there are big differences.DG2.1.1

The US and the influential work of W.W. Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, was central to this economic formulation. He was concerned with the international and political contexts of the processes of developing countries in transition. Rostow identified two major concerns; (1) Political/Strategic; (2) Economic/Developmental, and his development model was in large part contracted to increase the strategic influence of the United States. Both feared the promotion of development via communism and socialist regimes in developing countries (Potter et al., 2012, p.67)

All societies would be able to pass through five stages according to Rostow’s model:
Rostows model DG2Important factors for achieving take-off and the road to maturity were the infusion from outside modern industrial successes. Potter et al. are presuming that these ‘outside factors’ are the USA or its western allies (Potter et al., 2012, pp. 68)

In the era of the post-1980s globalization, neoliberal capitalism and its free-market ideological faiths continued to be dominant. At least an unbroken line until the recession of 2007-2011.

The modernization theories are argued to be still very present in the current shaping of development futures and can be/are destructive for development itself. Leading a country to develop in western norms, without taking social, political and cultural dimensions into account and using neoliberal ideas, has not proven itself as highly effective.

Note that this blog post has only discussed the starting era development, in which the launch of development aid took place, due to concern with disadvantaged people and strategic initiatives in the struggle between East and West. It was convenient in the Cold War (Communism / Capitalism)

Potter, R., Conway, D., Evans, R., & Lloyd-Evans, S. (2012). Key concepts in development geography. Sage Publications.

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