This book is about sociology and development. It is neither a general account of development nor an attempt to explore questions of social policy in the Third World. Were it either of these, it would have been a very different book. I have concentrated on sociology rather than on policy or development because I believe that sociology, together with its related discipline, anthropology, provides valuable insights into the problems of development both in the 'Third World' (with which this book is mainly concerned) and in the so-called 'developed countries', and that a sociological perspective is a valuable tool.
I have been interested and involved in development in one way or another since 1962, beginning from a perspective which in 1963 led me to go as a volunteer teacher to Sierra Leone. At that time, I thought that development was a fairly straightforward problem, of education combined with charity. I returned after a year having learned that this was not the case; that the process (if it was a process) was infinitely more complicated, and required an understanding of the historical, cultural and political ways in which people organised their social lives.
For the last fourteen years, I have worked in the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Our teaching here attempts an interdisciplinary approach to development, combining environmental sciences such as agronomy and soil science with social science insights. I have learned from my colleagues and from my students some of the ways in which these different disciplines can contribute to a fuller understanding. Also during these years, I have had a number of opportunities to work at the 'sharp end' of development-in a planning office in Papua New Guinea, in a cooperative ministry in Jordan, and on a rural development project in Zambia among others. In all of these places I have learned much.