The Conversation of Economic Development: Historical Voices, Interpretations, and Reality

The Conversation of Economic Development: Historical Voices, Interpretations, and Reality

The Conversation of Economic Development: Historical Voices, Interpretations, and Reality

The Conversation of Economic Development: Historical Voices, Interpretations, and Reality

Synopsis

This book investigates the belief patterns that underly alternative perspectives of development thought and policy. It discusses the differing theories and models of development in a discursive manner to highlight the importance of interaction between academic discourse and everyday life experiences. Utilizing insights drawn from the history of ideas, economic history, philosophy and political economy, the author shows how the field of development economics has evolved.

Excerpt

The idea of "development" is as old as history itself and is embedded in all the hopes and contradictions of the human condition. Throughout the ages, the belief has persisted that everything could be better than it actually is if all human potentials were to be fully realized. This is reflected in the fact that, unlike lower animals, all human beings are bequeathed with certain qualities and powers that could enable them to live an enjoyable or "good" life. Such an existential condition can be broadly defined as one in which people are free to the greatest extent possible from the forces of anti-development, such as fear, want, misery, and oppression. It also connotes a positive "freedom to choose," or a life that is being lived in accordance with the "essence," or true nature, of the human personality.

Ever since the days of classical political economy, the pattern of human concerns has been linked to the optimistic expectation that it is possible to explain and understand why some peoples and countries are poor and others rich, and how an authentic transformation can be effected from poverty to riches. In modern times, the professional field known as the "economics of development" or "development economics" has emerged out of this concern. While it has undoubtedly matured as an intellectual discipline, development economics might have failed in its original purpose, and there is a widespread perception that the field is no longer viable. One reason is that its dominant ideas remain an "intellectual chess game" in academia, but in the real world their significance ultimately depends on the degree to which they affect people's lives for the better, or make a positive contribution to human betterment.

Thus, the human development potential is inextricably linked with the nature of our truth claims, or what purports to be valid knowledge. Historically, the consciousness of homo sapiens has developed alongside essential human needs, and the quest for knowledge and truth has always reflected the optimistic belief . . .

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