Video: Ideas@IDRC: John Harriss
Dr. John Harriss traces the history of thinking on development over the past 50 years. Produced during the Development Ideas authors’ workshop 2012. ©IDRC/CRDI (French version)

— Abstract

Development theories are about understanding how the processes of change in societies take place. Scholars coming from historically less developed parts of Europe and the world contributed to the construction of modern theories of development in the 1940s, stressing the role of the state. In contrast, by the 1980s, left-wing and liberal perspectives gave priority to the role of the market. Yet the apparent success of Newly Industrialized Countries supported neither of these two orthodoxies. Instead the East Asian story, together with reflection on the failures of the Washington Consensus, inspired a renewal of development theory that recognizes the need for institutional diversity. The history of development theories suggests that specialists should resist pressures to embrace consensus, as no theory is immune to changes in social values or current policy problems.

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— Suggested Readings

Brett, Edward. A. (2009). Reconstructing Development Theory: international inequality, institutional reform and social emancipation. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Clark, David. A (ed). (2006). The Elgar Companion to Development Studies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Deneulin, S., Shahani, L., & International Development Research Centre (Canada). (2009). An introduction to the human development and capability approach: Freedom and agency. Sterling, Va: Earthscan. (Résumè en français disponible)

Harvey, David (2005). A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. [PDF 4MB]

Kohli, Atul. (2004). State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global Periphery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [PDF 4MB]

Leys, Colin. (1996). The Rise and Fall of Development Theory. London: James Currey.