Monday, May 17, 2021

The social and human dimension to the notion of development

 The social and human dimension to the notion of development

The concepts of development and progress are often used in a positive sense to indicate the processes of advancement of individual or of collective phenomena or of objects or of actions. Human society has made a long journey in this; so is the concept of development. For centuries development was understood as progress, thereafter as growth, as change, as transfer of notion, as modernisation and so on. Very recently it is understood (along with economic) as social and human development as well. Human society has progressed and developed through several stages. Indeed, human society has made a ceaseless journey from the stages of savagery to barbarism, from barbarism to civilisation, from theological to metaphysical, from metaphysical to positive scientific, from simple to doubly compound, from doubly compound to trebly compound, from homogenous to heterogeneous, from under-

developed to developed, from ancient to feudal, from feudal to capitalist, from traditional pre-industrial (mechanic solidarity), to industrial (organic solidarity) from pre– rational /pre-capitalist to rational capitalist, from primitive to intermediate, from intermediate to modern, agrarian to industrial, rural to urban and so on. In social science literature, these advancements have been viewed from diverse perspectives or orientations and have been diversely understood in philosophical, political, economic and social terms. This unit delineates the major perspectives on progress and development. We have initially located these concepts in the evolutionary perspectives as elaborated by the classical social thinkers like Morgan, Comte, Spencer, Hobhouse, Marx, Weber, McClelland, Durkheim and Parsons and go on to explain development in economic and social terms as has been visualised in the contemporary world.

Interpretations of individual development have also had powerful social impacts, especially as we have learned more about human embryology and reproductive biology. For those who hold the strongest versions of the view that each individual organism begins from unformed material, the emphasis on epigenetic emergence of form suggests that investing in "nurture" will pay off. It is worth investing in parenting that requires time and energy because this can shape the developmental process. In contrast, those who accept the view that the organism has some clear defining point at which it begins as an individual, and that its form or individuality is in some important sense already set, see much less value in investing in trying to shape what develops. Development in these cases is largely a matter of playing out the intrinsic causes. The dominant version of this interpretation maintains, of course, that heredity sets the individual's differentiation and that development is really just a matter of growth.

Development pattern of the past few decades have shown the following trends: 

                 The high Gross National Product (GNP) growth of the fast growing developing countries has failed to reduce the socio-economic deprivation of substantial sections of their population. 

                 High income for the industralised countries has not been able to provide protection against the rapid spread of social concerns like drug addiction and alcoholism, AIDS, homelessness, violence and the breakdown of family relations. 

                 Significantly, some low-income countries have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a high level of human development if they skillfully use the available means to expand basic human capabilities.

Human Development

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), human development is a process of analysing people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and change over time. But at all levels of development, the three essential ones are there for people (a) to lead a long and healthy life, (b) to acquire knowledge and (c) to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living. If these essential choices are not available many other opportunities remain inaccessible. Human development, however, does not end there. Additional choices, ranging from political, economic and social freedom to opportunities for being creative and productive and enjoying personal self-respect and guaranteed human rights are also inseparable parts of human rights. UNDP depicts two sides of human development (a) the formation of human capabilities – such as improved health, knowledge and access to resources; and (b) the people making use of these capabilities for productive purposes— being active in cultural, social and political affairs. 


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