Complex and ambiguous, contested both theoretically and politically, the concept of development has had various meanings throughout history. According to Chambers (1997), this means a ‘good change’ which “implies a vision of a desirable society (‘well being for all’); something to aim at, a state of being with certain positive attributes which can be measured so that we can talk of ‘more’ or ‘less’ development. ‘Change’, on the other hand, is a process which ‘may entail disruption’ and which it may or may not be possible to direct”(Thomas, 2000, p.23). But, the concept of development goes beyond ‘good change’; it is a progress in more than one aspect of life, a process where current improvements are built on the previous ones. Moreover, as Allan Thomas stated in his paperwork, the development is related to capitalism that has been developing in the past, is developing now and it will in the future. This is called neoliberalism and here we have two types of development: firstly there is the immanent one, that “tends to build on itself and ‘grow’ and ‘develop’ from within”( Thomas, 2000,p.25) and that may destroy the old in order to acquire the new. Secondly, there is the intentional development “which forms the deliberate policy and actions of states and development agencies”(Thomas,2000,p.25) ;this one should be distinctly differentiated from the first one.
However, there are also other views on development that are alongside (interventionism) or against (structuralism) capitalism. The intervention for improving the efficiency of the market and the achievement of certain social goals by governing the market are the characteristics of interventionism, whereas the structuralism sees development as being associated with changes in the “underlying social and economic structures”(Thomas, 2000,p.26). Yet, these two are not the only views on development, there is the alternative development that also goes alongside capitalism, and is centered on people and not on the state. There is, however, the post-development school that completely rejects the concept of development. Therefore, what is development? What are the real meanings of it and what do they imply? This essay covers the different senses of development as well as how was and is influenced by other trends like globalization, security, culture, economic growth.
The term of development is quite difficult to define; however, there are three main senses in which this is used:
1. “as a vision, description or measure of the state of being of a desirable society;”(Thomas,2000, p.29)
2. “as an historical process of social change in which societies are transformed over long periods;”(Thomas, 2000,p.29)
3. “as consisting of deliberate efforts aimed at improvement on part of various agencies, including governments, all kind of organizations and social movements.”(Thomas, 2000,p.29)
Even though development has three main senses, these are related to each other mainly because it is considered that the historical processes are the cause of the state of being of a desirable society and the latter one may be the goal desired by the direct efforts of improvement.
Development as a state of being has been very controversial throughout the years, mostly because there were different political ideas that led to different visions of a desirable society. In this case, the development has been seen as either a process, a vision of a “modern industrial society […] where every individual`s potential can be realized”(Thomas,2000,p.30) or as an amelioration of poverty. From 1950s and 1960s the development has been considered to be the same as modernization which included the industrial revolutions which have led to both economic growth and development. Another vision of development is the one that