• 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. Human Development. There are many aspects to take into consideration when discussing countries ...

    Obviously family A will be feeling the pinch and may miss out on alot of events that take place which may not allow for them to bloom to their fullest potential while family B can do many things that will allow a member to explore, learn and teach themselves alot about their own life.

  2. Causes to Slow Economic Development in Less Developing Countries.

    Hotels and Guestrooms received no customers for months. Three hundred people died from the disease. Loss of human lives, capital and economic activities caused by the disease must have been a significantly negative influence on the Chinese economic development since its trade, tourism and retail sales rely hugely on foreign countries.

  1. Internal analysis

    (WP-T3) Therefore, the relationship between poverty and migration is more likely to depend on how poverty and social exclusion are measured sinceas social discrimination is likely to play a decisive role in determining migration choices. According to Skeldon as the majority of the very poorest countries in the world

  2. Women at work

    In 1911, women's wages were 52.8% of men's. In 1985 they were 64.9%. Much of the wages gap can be explained by the segregated labour force (Shah). When male/female earnings are compared within occupational categories, the income differences are much smaller.

  1. The causes, conditions, and solutions of Underdevelopment: A case study of Brazil

    Thus it would be a disastrous mistake to try to use the aid program as a direct instrument for achieving such changes. Essentially, the cornerstone of our foreign assistance to Brazil, as well as many other countries, is a commitment by the Brazilian people and their government to self-help (ibid, 202).

  2. 'Development = Good Change' (Robert Chambers) Discuss.

    The proposed chief advantage this agreement was to give to the populations of the countries involved very much cheaper oversees call rates. In country like Indonesia though with a population of roughly 200 million people, where only a miniscule 300 thousand of those people ever make oversees calls, we can

  1. The process of globalization and its impact on agriculture in Africa.

    Consideration should be given to establishing national and regional teams of experts with the necessary authority to analyse the interests of their stakeholder groups and to establish appropriate negotiating positions. Negotiating teams should be significantly strengthened in Brussels and Geneva especially.

  2. Overview of South-Africa and Lesotho

    (South Africa info, 2010) In this country, there are 11 official languages that the Constitution recognizes, but it is IsiZulu the mother tongue of 23, 8% of the population according to Census 2001. Moreover, English it is only the mother tongue of 8, 2% of the population, despite this, it is the language most

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