Villages Astir: Community Development, Tradition, and Change in Korea

By John E. Turner; Vicki L. Hesli et al. | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

The history of modern times is recording a new era, one marked by the emergence of the so-called developing nations whose voices are no longer ignored in world politics and international affairs. Names that span the alphabet--from Bahrain and Burundi to Kiribati and Malawi and on to Zaire and Zimbabwe--have been incorporated into our vocabulary, even though some might experience difficulty in finding them on the map.

Many of these nations have gained their independence only since the end of World War II. Others have been acknowledged as sovereign entities for a much longer period of time but have not yet developed sufficient economic or political power to assert themselves on the international scene. Now, however, because of their numbers and the growing interdependence of the modern world, these "Third World" nations must be recognized and understood. These nations are rich in contrasts, located as they are in a diverse pattern of cultural spheres. Historical legacies are both different and similar, the resources available to them vary greatly, and they start the "modernization" process from differing points on the development continuum.

Although most of these countries are beneficiaries of a rich cultural inheritance, their economies are often poorly developed, sometimes even primitive; most of the people in these areas endure a low standard of living. Improved communication with the outside world has increased their knowledge of life in the wealthier countries, making them envious and sensitive to their own lack of progress. In an effort to move their domains from a backward position, many leaders of Third World countries list economic advancement as their primary objective, with the government usually playing a dominant role in establishing priorities in planned economic life. Inspired by feelings of nationalism, they nurture a strong desire to remodel their economic systems quickly, so that they can catch up with the industrialized states in record-smashing time. They measure "progress" by what appears on the productivity charts. Some Third World countries,

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