Understanding Post Development
critically evaluate the Post-Development critique of Development.
Development is widely seen as an improvement of a country’s economy as well as the social conditions. However, the concept of development has been debated and raised a lot of concerns as well as attracting a lot of scholars to research on the sole purpose of development. Many value judgments have been drawn in a bid to understand what constitutes development and what does not. However, it is important to note that the main aim of development is to create conditions that lead to the realization of the potentials of personalities (Crain, 2015). Therefore, the understanding of post development theory is very important in understanding the modern perspective of development and what ideologies are behind the concept of development. Is the modern world still holding to the traditional approach to development or are we experiencing a new era of post development? If then why do we have to criticize the post development theory or why does the theory hold much significance to some countries? Does the scope of post development help achieve the goals of development or does it negate the whole idea of development? This study, therefore, seeks to provide a critical analysis of the post development ideologies or critique of development through an understanding of different scholars of the subject.
The understanding of post development is developed from the theory of post development. The theory or the theorists of post development hold to the opinion or ideology that the practice of development in any nation or country is entirely a reflection of the Western- Northern hegemony and is imposed on other developing nations. Therefore they have declared development as bankrupt and absolute and initiated a call for other development alternatives (Peet & Hartwick, 2015). Such a concept has however come under great scrutiny from mainstream policy makers as well as from academics. Many criticisms have been raised over the subject of development based on the ideologies of the postmodern development and from a different perspective, the critics may be right as the theorists argue that the world might be experiencing or witnessing the last rites of development (Moore & Schmitz, 2016). But how true are these findings or conclusion are to other scholars of different opinion has been the big question as in over two decades the tenets of development discourse created since colonial and post-colonial era have continued to trouble the minds of many policy makers as well as business or economic analysts.
Development as Western-Northern Hegemony
Many theorists, however, propose the use of history as a methodology for studying and helping people understand development than the prevailing notion of constructing development theories in a bid to understand and explain history as well as providing development models for the future. Nick Cullather argues that history of development has been used as a methodology of studying modernization in which the real case should be using modernization to study history (Jackson & Sørensen, 2015). Post development holds the critique that the modern development theory is just a creation of academic, political as well as economic ideologies. And argue that this context of development is policy oriented and problem oriented and therefore it is believed to be it's only effective to a particular social concern.
The development theory is however believed to assume the framework that is already established by either a government or a certain political culture for it to be implemented (Kapoor, 2014). This has brought the argument that the post development process was socially constructed and historically believed to reflect the development pattern of Western Hegemony. This idea has brought a lot of criticisms of the development framework since the post development theorists believed development as an ideology as well as a social vision based on ideas of modernization which are believed to hold a western economic structure and society and imposed to other nations to follow and emulate. Such an understanding brought a conflict in terms of development disclosure which was argued to reflect the unequal relations between the West and the rest of the world (Gupta et al. 2015). The main arguments from different scholars were the perception or understanding of development as a scope that covered or brought about the western knowledge of development, its approach towards development, the conception of what development entails as well as the perceptions of development progress (Ziai, 2015). The post development theorists argued that these were all directed to the course of the rest of the world and therefore the continued belief that development had no goal or was obsolete to the developing countries as was meant to continue African domination as dependents over the developed nations.
The argument of some of the scholars of the post development theory such as Arturo Escobar, Gustavo Estera, and Gilbert List among others argued that post development was unjust, never worked and even at this point they still point out that it has theory has failed. Their argument was that the ideas of development stands like a ruin in the intellectual landscape and also argue that it is meant to dismantle the mental structure (Asongu, 2016). This structure was meant to bring a concept of the hierarchy of developed and underdeveloped nations. In this case, the developed nations were seen as more advanced while the underdeveloped nations were seen as inferior in need of help from developed nations and always desire to be like the developed nations. The post development theorist criticized the model of development to be ethnocentric and Universalist based on the western model of industrialization is has been found to be unsuitable in a world of limited resources (Radcliffe, 2015). It was then found to be ineffective due to the argument that the development model was ignorant of the local culture as well as the historical contexts of the people to which they are applied. Therefore the post development theorist based on these developmental concerns promoted the development of pluralism in the ideas about development.
Critique of Development
Therefore having looked at the post development theory and the ideas brought about by different theorists it is evident that their main critique for development was the fact that development was imposed upon the developing world by the West. However, their critic is found to be unrealistic as their main argument was based on the ideology that development was imposed on the developing nations yet in more realistic terms development should be said to have risen from the developed nations (Childs & Williams, 2014). Wirth such an understanding it would be easy for nations to support development initiatives since the developing nations can only adopt the development frameworks that work for them other than having the feeling that development is been imposed on the developing nations. Ray Kiel argues that development should be understood in terms of the choices made by the different nations (Andrews &Bawa, 2014).
Post development theorists idea that a rejection of all development by a nation translates to a rejection of the possibility for material advancement and transformation was objected and found to be overstated as it ignored the many transformations in life opportunities that are evident in many parts of the developing nations. Development can still be achieved without adopting certain strategies of development as it is entirely dependent on the development choices made by different economies of different nations (Leigh & Blakely, 2016). Development can be viewed by both short term developmental goals as well as the long term goals and therefore a nation does not have to adopt or implement certain or all development ideas brought forth from different economies. And therefore there is a possibility of attaining development goals without the adoption of all development ideologies or frameworks.
The post development theorists have also failed to notice the heterogeneity within the development discourse which is categorized or has been categorized under western hegemony. It is, however, realistic to say that development may have risen from the westerns but only some limited concepts of might have originated from them (Escobar, 2015). Failure to promote development with the view of western hegemony is an act of ignorance as development is a wide concept that can only be understood from a different school of thoughts. There isn’t any sufficient school of thought that can be said to be sufficient to explain the concept of development.
Cultural relativism was also a major critic of development under post development. However, it is important to understand that the idea of a society or national cultural beliefs and practices can only be judged only by those who practice them. Cultural relativism refers to the fact that values, ideas, norms, and behaviors differ from culture to culture and place to place (Pye & Verba, 2015). However this may be true, it is still critical to understand that the heterogeneity of development cuts across the bridges of cultural relativism as the basic goal or objective of development is to make or create the conditions that lead to a realization of the potential of personalities in different societies and therefore it only calls for mechanisms of involving or initiating people centered development initiatives. Post development has also been criticized to represent extreme relativism instead of extreme universalism which may bring dangerous development consequences.
The Failure of Post-Development Theories
The post development has also been criticized for perpetuating a neo liberal who rejected the top- down and centralized approach to development and have been found to be in support or promoting development through local means. However the post modernization development theory holds to the idea that the first world needs the third worlds and vice versa which is a central opinion to that held by the neo- liberal assumptions that the world is an equal playing field and therefore each nation has a capacity to compete equally with other nations (Park, 2014). It is important to note that for development to be achieved nations have to depend on each other as there is no single country that is self-sufficient. It can only have a competitive advantage over the others but does not mean that it is not dependent on the other. The notion that was brought about by this argument was that the local nations were responsible for their own predicament which is very unrealistic.
Lastly, post development critic of development did unintentionally agree with the neo- liberalist ideology of development that favors decentralized development projects and ignores the possibility of assisting impoverished development demographics instead the post development theorists made a fallacious assumption that such demographics must succeed on their own initiative. Therefore post development is seen to empower the anti-modern fundamentalist and traditionalist who are considered to hold non-progressive and oppressive values. Such ideologies of non-progressiveness and oppressive values cannot support the ideologies of development in any society since development itself is progressive and it’s always realizable over a period of time (Leigh & Blakely, (2016). The development aims to assist the impoverished demographic in any nations to grow but not to leave them to succeed in their own initiative as this may not be possible due to other factors including insufficient resource endowment capacity of the nations. The call for alternatives therefore by the post development theorist is therefore unrealistic as post modernization development incorporates the ideas of post development and also provides a framework for adoption of new development strategies and initiatives.
It is important to have the understanding of the post development concepts or ideologies of development as well as the post modernization ideas of development and get to understand or evaluate the usefulness of both concepts. A critical analysis, therefore, helps to appreciate each school of thought as well as advocate for alternatives if a gap is established in any of the past scholarly developments. This study has, therefore, helped us to understand that the post development ideologies of development have only been built up under the misconception that development was a western hegemony and was meant to make the developing nations continue being dependent on the developed nations. However, it is good to understand the heterogeneity nature of development and that it’s a wide discipline that cannot be explained by a particular school of thought or a single theory cannot be sufficient enough to determine the course of development and that is why positive critique is very important.
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