The multiple connotations of the term development

 The multiple connotations of the term development

There are several connotations about development, such as development as growth, development as change or transformation and development as modernisation. In economic terms, development as growth refers to an increased capacity to produce consumption goods and a concomitant increase in consumption patterns.

As growth, development very simply may be defined with respect to an increased ability to fulfill basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education. In a third sense of growth, development has also been defined in terms of expansion of possibilities, an increase in individual choices, capabilities and functioning. Development in the above senses carries with it connotations of being positive, progressive, and natural beneficial and inevitable.

Development as change and transformation refers to the economic, social, political and cultural processes of change in human societies. Development is also understood as modernisation, though some may disagree about them being one and the same thing. Often modernisation being seen as a means to development. In the economic realm it refers to the processes of industrialisation, urbanisation and technological transformation of agriculture. 

In the political realm, it requires a rationalisation of authority in general and a rationalising bureaucracy in particular. In the social realm it is marked by the weakening of ascriptive ties and the primacy of personal achievement in advancement, and in the cultural realm it is the growth of science and secularisation, along with an expansion of the literate population that makes for what has been referred to as a “disenchantment” of the world. Development in this sense of modernity stands for what is understood as Westernisation, where the west stands as the model for the progress of the rest of the world.

As development has meant industrial growth, profits and resources were diverted to feed industry at times ignoring the basic subsistence need of society. It obviously led to the expansion of the market at the cost of livelihoods for many. While it has generated utilities of consumption and luxury, it has also resulted in higher levels of pollution and erosion of natural resources that threaten mankind’s very existence.

The growth-oriented development was accompanied by an increase in inequalities and social disintegration. There was evidence everywhere to show how development itself either left behind or even create a new large area of poverty and stagnation, making for marginalisation and exclusion of sections of populations from the fruits of social and economic progress.

Gunder Frank who perceived the injustices of the existing developmental processes, coined the phrase development of underdevelopment, for held that the process of development that is underway makes some people and regions developed while others are underdeveloped as a result of this global dynamics of the world system.

Economic growth has manifested itself in terms of an internationalisation of the economies of developing nations a boom in the financial capital at the disposal of nations; and increased mechanisation impacting processes and patterns of production and consumption. It has also meant increased concentration of wealth, wide disparities in distribution of wealth, the withdrawal of the welfare state and an increasing role of the military in the political and economic life of countries. 

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