Development can simply be described as the process of developing. It is also the process through which an individual or something grows or transforms. It refers to progressive, positive growth and advancement. Development applies to almost every aspect of life. Individuals, organisations, communities, societies and even countries all grow and go through a process of growth and change. This topic is very broad and in this article, I shall be looking at the theory of development and how it has evolved over time in various societies.
There are various theories of development, some of which are categorized thus:
1. Modernization Theory
This refers to the process of change and evolution that every society goes through in its transformation from a traditional to modern society. The history of this theory is linked to some American social scientists in the 1950s. There are several versions of this theory but the most prominent - the Marxist vs Capitalist, Western and Present day versions.
- Marxist vs Capitalists
The Marxist theory was propounded by Karl Marx and stated that as nations developed, adopting the communist approach to governance which include eradicating poverty, would eventually lead to the end of conflict, oppression and inequality in society while the Capitalists theorized that as nations developed, social change and economic development will birth democracy.
- Western version
was popular during the cold war and it theorized that underdeveloped countries were so because of their religious, communal and traditionalist values that hindered progress.
- Present day version
This is the school of thought that states that many countries would not follow the stages of development due to their own unique challenges such as their political and social norms.
This is another development theory that is focused on the structural issues that impede the growth of developing countries economically. The structural transformation it promotes is to help create an economy that is self sustaining. It can be achieved by ending the over dependence of developing countries on the developed economies. It proposes that developing countries should push for industrial growth to reduce their dependency on trade with the developed world and encourage trade among themselves.
3. Dependency Theory
This theory is seen as a follow up to the structuralist way of thinking. It also states that every society goes through its own peculiar stage of development. Dependency theorists state that underdeveloped countries will always be vulnerable economically except there is a reduction of their links to the world market.
4. The Basic Needs Theory
This was introduced by the International Labour Organisation because the modernisation and structuralism approaches were not producing results as it related to poverty alleviation and correcting the inequalities in developing countries. Those who speak in favour of this theory argue that the elimination of absolute poverty makes it possible to make people active in the society.
5. Neoclassical Theory
This theory originated from its predecessor, classical economics which was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. This development theory became popular in the late 1970s. In 1980, the World Bank supported the neoclassical theory as against it basic needs approach. It started becoming popular from early 1980s.
- Structural Adjustment Programme
One of the offshoot of the neoclassical development theory for developing countries was the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which the World Bank and International Monetary Fund had asked them to adopt. Features of SAP included:
= Reduction in government spending.
= Privatizing government companies in order to improve their efficiency and profitability.
= Liberalization of trade and currency devaluation.
= Introducing free market
6. Recent Theories of Development
- Post development theory
This school of thought questions the notion of national
economic development as a whole. This theory has its origin from the 1980s and 1990s. Its theorists say that development is only a thought and has brought about a hierarchy of developed and undeveloped countries with the underdeveloped countries aspiring to be like the developed countries. Some experts say that development thinking is dominated by the West. Others argue that the lifestyle in the West is neither a realistic nor desirable goal for the population of the world.
- Sustainable development
This type of development meets the needs of the present without tampering, altering but preserving the ability for future generations to meet their own needs. It can also be broken up into: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and socio-political sustainability. The United Nations on 25th September, 2015 adopted 17 sustainable development goals. These include:
= To end poverty in all forms everywhere.
= To end hunger and achieve food security while improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.
= Ensuring healthy living and promote well being for all ages.
= Provide inclusive and equitable quality education while promoting lifelong opportunities for all.
= To achieve gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls.
= Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
= To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, clean energy for all.
= To build durable infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and promote innovation.
= To reduce inequality within and among countries.
= To make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
= To ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
= To urgently combat climate change and its impact.
= To conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
= To protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
= To protect peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
= To strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
- Human development theory
This theory focuses on how social capital and instructional capital can be used to improve the value of human capital in the economy. It utilises ideas that have different origins ranging from sustainable development, feminism, ecology and welfare economics.