• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"You must either be very numb or very rich if you fail to notice that Development stinks" Gutavo Esteva (1987:135). Assess the challenge of Post-development theory to mainstream development paradigms

Extracts from this document...


"You must either be very numb or very rich if you fail to notice that Development stinks" Gutavo Esteva (1987:135). Assess the challenge of Post-development theory to mainstream development paradigms The rise of Post-development theory in the late 1980's through to the 1990's advocated by scholars across the globe (Sachs, Escobar, Esteva, Shiva and Illich - to name but a few) brought to the fore more radical interpretations and critiques of mainstream development paradigms. The post-development theorists set about a brutal yet arguably necessary attack upon current development practices and theories claiming to uncover some of the hidden truths behind the 'Western' development project, as Esteva states 'The time has come to unveil the secret of development and see it in all its conceptual starkness' (1992:7). Post-development embarked on a complete rejection of current development practice naming it a failure in every sense. However, others were sceptical, many believing that such a position was unnecessary and indeed unhelpful in terms of suggesting development alternatives, as Nederveen-Pieterse writes 'Post-development is caught in a rhetorical gridlock. Using discourse analysis as an ideological platform invites political impasse and quietism. In the end post-development offers no politics besides the self-organising capacity of the poor, which actually lets the development responsibility of the states and international institutions off the hook' (2000: 187). Under such stark criticism the question often posed is what real challenge does post-development theory have to offer to the wider debate and reality of the development situation, if all it appears to be is semantic hot air? This paper will discuss in detail this very point, arguing that despite its at times, extreme radical view points, post-development has much to offer in terms of challenging our neoclassical interpretations and understanding of mainstream development theory. An initial overview will be given of the progression of development over the last four decades, highlighting the rise of post-development theory in the 1980's through to the 1990's. ...read more.


In advocating the rise to modernity, Illich believes that a state of mind is engendered within developing nations, a state of mind which convinces them they are 'underdeveloped', 'Underdevelopment is the result of rising levels of aspiration achieved through the intensive marketing of 'patent' products' (1997:97). Thus for Illich poverty becomes planned, a scam to force developing nations into an unfair globalized economy producing foreign products for the global market and to, as Illich provocatively puts it 'surrender social consciousness to pre-packaged solutions' (1997:97). And what of the impact the presence of such foreign firms and products have on developing nations? The impacts according to post-development, are only too apparent from the high levels of industrial pollution and environmental degradation to the use of sweatshop labour in the manufacture of global goods. A recent example in the UK press highlights the adversity of these impacts only too well as the largest Coca Cola plant in India is accused of 'putting thousands of farmers out or work by draining the water that feeds their wells and poisoning the land with waste sludge that the company claims is fertiliser' (The Guardian. 2003). The plant employing only 141 people has been condemned by the charity ActionAid as an 'example of the worst kind of inward investment by multinational companies in developing countries' (The Guardian. 2003). In the face of such modern catastrophe and technological disaster, such as that of the big 'D' Development Dam projects of the last two decades (including the Indian Sardar Sarovar Project in which over 200,000 people have been displaced, 56% of whom are tribal people (Kurian. 2000:843)), the post-development thinkers call on tradition, self-sufficiency and locally based forms of appropriate technology to resist, challenge and provide alternatives to the dominant ideologies of modernism touted by global technocrats. The well documented work of Norberg-Hodge writing on Ladakh in the trans-Himalayan region of Kashmir, highlights the importance post-development theory places on traditional ways of life as a means to provide alternatives to development and challenge modernity. ...read more.


1999:145). Criticised for their generalisation of development, overtly pessimistic view points, romanticisation, unproblematised view of social movements and a complete rejection of development, post-developmentalists have themselves not preceded unchallenged. Indeed their tendency to deconstruct rather than reconstruct and the absence of alternatives does make many wary of the fruitfulness of such a standpoint (see Nederveen-Pieterse 2000). However, the beauty of post-development lies not in its answers but in its lack of answers. Post-developmentalists challenge the global super powers and International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank and IMF; they challenge civil society to resist, in similar ways to those of the Mayan indigenous population who through the rise of the Zapatistas have appealed 'for an end to 500 years of oppression and 40 years of 'development' (Esteva. 1994:302) and who call for greater recognition of indigenous rights; they call on NGO's, development Agencies, charities and development practitioners to rethink the way they operate, to question and to challenge the work they are doing; they challenge not only Western scholars but also those of the Third World, in particular on what Peet and Hardwick call 'Intellectual Dependency Theory' (1999:137) - a challenge to Third World scholars to move away from the dominant ideologies of Western discourse towards more critical and creative thinking on the issues facing developing countries; they also pose challenges to themselves, to their body of knowledge which indeed does not provide answers. However, ultimately post-development challenges us, both our mind set, ways of thinking and assumptions. To conclude it must be stated that despite its obvious drawbacks, post-development successfully provides a series of provocative challenges to mainstream development paradigms, indeed Corbridge sums up the power of post-development and the opportunity it provides for future change, '...Post-development keeps the "raw nerve of outrage alive"...post-development thinkers force us to confront our own prejudices about the agendas of development and the shocking failure of some aspects of the development project. They also provide a human touch that is too often missing in development studies' (1999:143). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Human & Social Geography section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Human & Social Geography essays

  1. Criticism of sustainable development and Sustainable development in the Southeast Asian context

    Moreover, as the processes of globalisation and regional integration become more implicit within the Southeast Asian society, governments are competing to position themselves within a global economic order. This continuing process has begun to push the resource exploitation into peripheral areas for example Thai logging companies moving into the abundant forest reserves of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

  2. Petroleum and Politics. The report aims to analyse the evolution of oil over ...

    is over the demand will continue growing especially with the emergence of economies such as China or India. It is very probable that in the next years the price of oil will grow to levels that the world has not seen in its history because the OPEC will not be

  1. Dependency Theory

    development process itself which is most damaging, calling it 'a universalizing tool of westernization'. Dependency Theory is in large part a theory of development in the third world. One of its strengths is its recognition that from the beginning, capitalism developed as a multinational system, which industrialization in England, amongst

  2. PRSPs: The International Financial Institutions(TM)s New Anti-Poverty Agenda. A New Start or More of ...

    it appears that inequality has been worsened. For example "The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants" (globalissues.org,www) The criticisms of the World Bank and the IMF have mainly been about their political agenda, when originally they were created to be impartial organisations.

  1. Literature Review - Sustainable Livelihoods.

    It looks in detail at the performance of a scheme called SADS (Suivi Alimentaire Delto Seno) and how successful it has been in this area. The second section "A Simplified Methodology For Monitoring Livelihoods" suggests an alternative strategy based on the findings of the previous section.

  2. Homelessness. Of course poverty is just a general effect from the corporate capitalist ...

    As a result of facing discrimination in the workplace and society it means that women are not able to get support and help that they need - especially single mothers- which can create a very difficult life in poverty and in some cases can lead to homelessness due to not being able to support a family.

  1. Globalisation in India

    Despite not being a part of many trade blocs, India signed a trade agreement with Association of South-East Asian Nations in early 2010 and is expected to form one with the European Union in December 2010 (SME Times, 2010). This will further reduce the barriers to trade within India and give the world enhanced market access of key Indian products.

  2. Experiences of Life as an Immigrant. Cross-cultural analysis of Eva Hoffman "Lost in Translation"

    Eva probably knows that accepting this new world and the new culture could mean to detach herself from her native culture. Forms of Intercultural Competence shown/not shown During her exile, Eva passes various steps from a state of complete refusal to a final acceptance.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work