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Critically assess the impact of ‘Third-Worldism’ on development theory.

Background

Various impacts the concept of “Third-Worldism” has on the theory of development across the Globe.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement for this essay is, the theory of Third-Worldism has a direct impact on development theory.

The term developmental theory denotes to those theories that have been formulated in order to develop the third world nations, or the nations that are still under developed. Therefore, the primary need of a developmental theory is that it must fulfill the criterion of inducing development into the third world countries.

During the cold war the world was literally divided into two separate groups. The cold war was going on among two countries, the Liberal USA and the Communist Soviet Union or USSR, and most of the countries throughout the world were supporting either of these two powers Queen (Elizabeth, 2015). However, there were many countries that did not take part in such grouping and were known as the third world countries. It is important to note that these third world countries have a common feature, that is they all were in the category of developing nations or under developed nations, none of the countries that belonged to the developed category were in the group which did not support any of these two powers.

After the cold war was over and the world saw the much needed cooperation of various countries to assist each other in the process of development, there was a discussion among the developed nations about various processes in which the “third world countries” can be assisted in their endeavor of development (Goldmann, Hannerz & Westin, 2012). This the researchers from various countries started drawing the developmental theories. However, trends showed that the theories that were devised during the beginning phase were gradually losing importance in the later days when new theories were formulated into that effect.

Among the various early theories for development one of the most important theories is the Walt Whitman Rostow’s modernization theory of 1960 (Conrad, 2012).. This theory mainly had five different stages of development, the first being the “Traditional society, preconditions for take-off, Take off, Drive to maturity and Age of high mass consumption”. The process of development which needs to be initiated in the third world countries needs to be theorized and then executed by the international community in a unified manner, otherwise the objective of an overall sustainable development of all the countries may not be achieved.

Early Theories of Development

The theories that were developed in the subsequent period mainly emphasized upon the fact that singular theories may not be viable for all nations to be followed as there are much cultural, social, political and historical differences among all the countries throughout the world. Therefore, there was a need for developing dynamic processes that would fit into the situations of various countries to accommodate the different nature of the various countries. The Dependency theory had refuted the modernization theory which was mentioned previously on the logic that the modernization theory mentions some stages, however these stages may not be applicable for all the countries, and there are different needs for different countries (Bull & Bøås, 2012). The dependency theorists have explained that the stages of development in the various countries are to be measured differently according to the nature of each countries and that the development cannot be measured uniformly for each of the countries. The theories that may be applied in the Western countries which are already developed cannot be utilized in the third world developing countries. Many of the theorists claim that the developed nations in many cases exploit the third world countries in terms of labor, or natural resources. It is seen all over the world that the companies in the western countries use the cheap labor force in the third world countries to manufacture their products. Matthews (2017) stated this theory helped in establishing a clear “reassessment” of the measures to be taken by the agents of developments to bring the necessary changes in the theories of development to match the criteria of the third world developing countries. However, by proper study it can be understood that both the theories can be utilized in two distinctive cases of development. The modernization theory can be utilized in the case of inducing further development in the developed nations, and the dependency theory furnishes the case of development in the third world countries which are still in the phase of development or under development. These countries are dependent on the 1st world countries, or developed countries in order to meet their requirement of development. The aids provided by the international agencies like United Nations, or the World Bank also come with the assistance of the developed countries which are financially stable.

The third world countries have not agreed with the ideals of “development” put forward by the economically stable “first world countries” of the West. The ideals of development in one country may not be suitable for another country in another economic and social setting.

Dependency Theory vs Modernization Theory

The Second World War created the stage for international cooperation to begin on a serious level. Human beings understood the need of a comprehensive system of cooperation that would prevent such massacre in the future and a sustainable development progress for all the countries around the globe can be achieved. In that purpose the United Nations was created to bring the efforts of the unified development into one uniform pattern. The membership of the united nations general assembly was open for all, however the membership of the security council was limited to a few number of developed and powerful countries that were influential throughout the globe. Henceforth, indications were found that the case of development for the already developed and influential countries were argued for in a high pitch tone, however the voice of the under developed countries of the third world was not properly represented in the United Nations. This resulted in the formation of various organizations which had only third world members. These organizations were aimed at resolving the problems that were encountered in the United Nations, the major of which was ignorance from the developed countries. These organizations were local organizations aimed at initiating development and cooperation among the third world countries. Examples are BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) (Keukeleire & Hooijmaaijers, 2014).

McArthur and Werker (2016) rightly noted that these organizations that were aimed at solution of various problems among the third world countries, and the trend mainly started after the formation of United Nations. The countries which were still in the stage of developmental needs, and in the countries where the human developmental index was still low these countries understood the need of establishing organizations that will catalyze the process of mutual cooperation among such countries. The “development” process of the developed nations also comprised of unsustainable practices that posed threat to the environment, and hence the underdeveloped nations who were not responsible for such environmental damages also has taken up the responsibility of executing correctional measures. Example is that the developed nations contributes the most to the process of global warming, however according to the Paris agreement, all the countries have to take equal responsibilities in undoing the damages caused.

Industrialization is the primary measurement of how much developed a nation is. Industrialization contributes in making a country better in terms of economy, technology and life style. The countries where the industrialization ratio is less, is to be globally considered as countries which are underdeveloped. However, this definition of development may not be true as a whole, as more industrialization would not necessarily mean that the wealth distribution is even across segments of the population, or everyone is deriving equal benefits from the industrial development. Apart from that unsustainable industrial practices also may not be considered as overall development.

Third-Worldism and International Cooperation

The two contrasting ideas of developmental theory are in synchronization with the ideologies of “Liberalism” and “Marxism”. The idea of Liberalism is articulated by Adam Smith, who has in details discussed about how this theory would catalyze development in the third world countries. The Marxian theory on the other hand takes a completely opposite approach. This difference in ideology has been reflected in “third worldism”, and deviation of approach.

Various political thoughts throughout the world have different ways of explaining and analyzing the idea of development. The Marxian developmental theory is different from the developmental theory of Liberalist view. Adam Smith’s political ideology was based upon the ideas of liberalism, which emphasized upon free market and lesser governmental intervention in the market and economic activities (Oslington, 2012). The idea of liberalism is just the opposite of Marxian explanation of economy and development. An economically strong nation according to Adam Smith would be dependent on the division of labor force within the economy. Going on with the views of Liberalism Adam Smith strongly believed that when a market is free from governmental control (presence of minimum governmental control in areas where it is needed), and where healthy economic competition prevails along with ability of individuals to hold private property as they may wish, that economy will succeed in developing. The healthy competition and free market will enable the entities to endeavor in maximizing their wealth according to their capability this will lead to an economic stable country as a whole where new business and employment opportunities will open up (Von Mises, 2012).

On the other hand, the Marxian philosophy is just the opposite to this ideology, and it gives emphasis on state control on economic activities, and resources which will enable the government in including all sections of the population in taking part in the economy, this will ensure a better equal division of wealth among the people (Pashukanis, 2017). The public ownership of property according to Karl Marx gives rise to accumulation of resources in the powerful sections of the society which he calls as “haves”, and they exploit the weaker section of the society whom he calls “have nots” (Negishi, 2014).

Therefore, by the study of both of these theories it is evident that both of these theories indicate two different perceptions of development, and the two different theories define development very differently. During the Cold War the world was divided into two groups, one headed by the Communist USSR which believed in the Marxian model of development, and one group headed by the liberal USA. So the countries which backed each other these powers were also divided along their ideology. The groups hence formed were one communist group of nation and one liberal group of nations, who were called “capitalist” by the USSR group. Post the Cold War the developmental model adopted by the third world countries were inspired by these developmental ideologies and theories. China was a communist country and it established the Marxian system of development, and India on the other hand, under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru adopted a mixed economic policy where components of both the Marxian system of development and the Liberal theory were adopted according to need. The railway lines and partially the health and educational services were under the government control, whereas the banks were privatized in the beginning phase.

Industrialization and Development

Contemporary theories of viable development and activities like “Millennial Development Goals (MDGs)” formulated by the United Nations are condemned for being enforced upon third world nations.

The United Nations has proposed the Sustainable Developmental Goals which has the objective of achieving development in a sustainable manner which could be implemented across the globe without affecting the environment. The environmental pollution and global warming was proposed to be controlled by the Paris Agreement, under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (Savaresi, 2016). However, the differences of opinions among the various countries in performing the responsibilities has raised a question about how much feasible it is to take all the countries of the world to act towards achieving the same goals.

The United States recently pulled out of the Paris Agreement on the ground that the responsibilities which were imposed upon the country under the provisions of this agreement were unacceptable and these are harming the economy of the country.

Conclusion

Therefore, it is understandable by understanding the above paragraphs that the emergence of third world concept changed the course of developmental theories and discussions. New theories were devised and many new organizations were formed which were working towards achievement of the objectives of development. The third world countries often did not accept the notion of development according to the developed nations. It is evident that there must be different developmental models for different countries and the process must be customized according to the need of the situation.

Reference:

Bull, B., & Bøås, M. (2012). Between Ruptures and Continuity: Modernisation, Dependency and the Evolution of Development Theory. Forum for Development Studies, 39(3), 319–336. doi:10.1080/08039410.2012.688860

Conrad, S. (2012). ‘The Colonial Ties Are Liquidated’: Modernization Theory, Post-War Japan and the Global Cold War. Past & Present, 216(1), 181-214.

Goldmann, K., Hannerz, U., & Westin, C. (2012). Introduction: Nationalism and internationalism in the post-Cold War era. In Nationalism and Internationalism in the Post-Cold War Era(pp. 13-33). Routledge.

Keukeleire, S., & Hooijmaaijers, B. (2014). The BRICS and Other Emerging Power Alliances and Multilateral Organizations in the Asia?Pacific and the Global South: Challenges for the European Union and Its View on Multilateralism. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 52(3), 582-599.

Matthews, S. (2017). Colonised minds? Post-development theory and the desirability of development in Africa. Third World Quarterly, 38(12), 2650–2663. doi:10.1080/01436597.2017.1279540

McArthur, J. W., & Werker, E. (2016). Developing countries and international organizations: Introduction to the special issue.

Negishi, T. (2014). History of economic theory (Vol. 26). Elsevier.

Oslington, P. (2012). God and the market: Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Journal of Business Ethics, 108(4), 429-438.

Pashukanis, E. (2017). The general theory of law and Marxism. Routledge.

Queen Elizabeth, I. I. (2015). Cold War Era. Postwar America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History, 191.

Savaresi, A. (2016). The Paris Agreement: a new beginning?. Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 34(1), 16-26.

Von Mises, L. (2012). Liberalism. Important Books.

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