Monthly Archives: October 2011

Defining and measuring development

This week was a bit of a test drive.
First I was totally overwhelmed with the amount of information ahead of me, many readings I wanted to do fully so I could absorb as much as possible. And then it was written in the handbook: “Pause for thought”. Organize yourself and process what you have read so far – I said to myself.

So, I found it interesting when I noticed that most of the people had given a social explanation for development and I went for a political one. I do believe in the evolution explanation I tried to outline but I wondered for a while why everyone else had chosen a different path.

What I thought was: well, since I am doing the CSD master, I might as well start relating subjects. At least in my head. It made even more sense when I read the first two pages of Thomas (2000) article – Meanings and views of Development – the reasoning can perfectly reflect “my” evolution theory.

I had never reflected on country names or classifications before. But as I did it here reading Harris, Moore and Schmitz (2009) it seemed slightly obvious to conclude that these labels will keep on changing either for historic and diplomatic reasons or as GDP or HDI – Greig, Hulme and Turner (2007) – or any other statistic moves countries in any direction of the development process according to a common characteristic.

Classification is itself is a dynamic process and this is valid both for labels and for buzzwords. After the end of the first, second and third world era with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of more diplomatic classifications, we will soon see the G20 change.  Maybe not the number of economies in the group but probably some of them will change.

Statistics are needed for any kind of reliable evaluation.  GDP, HDI or any other are, in fact, the starting point for any interpretation we might want to draw on a given country or region. How accurate this interpretation is, it will depend on what kind of data or statics specialists put on numbers.

Another question: should we have statistics on countries or on regions? I say they have to be regional as we can have a more in-depth comparison between potential similar areas. How can that be done, with all constrains of missing data in some of these regions? I don’t know yet.

As for the (buzz)words – Cornwall (2007) – classifying areas, regions, target groups I understand they are necessary in order to identify certain subjects, patterns or groups. I don’t have any problem with the words per se as long as when they are applied they are framed in a case-by-case logic and based on exhaustive explanations and not a one-fits-all one basis.

So, in light of the readings I did, the meaning of development from my point of view hasn’t changed but it has for sure been enriched and grounded on real arguments. The articles I read helped me to fill in some explanation gaps, regardless of me agreeing with them or not.


Development – what is it?

Luanda, AngolaLuanda, Angola

Development. What is it? For me it’s evolution. A combination of factors that will ultimately lead to evolution.
After long consideration I have picked a photo I took myself in Luanda, Angola, in December 2009.
In the picture, you can see a tall modern tower from the national oil company, Sonangol. Standing ahead is an older small building of a bookshop with bullet marks that hit it during the civil war that ended in 2002.
Angola can very well be a good example of the opportunities that a country can be faced with once the conflicts are over. Angolan authorities are very well aware of that. By granting foreign investors a secure and safe environment in any given area, Angola is in a win-win situation: the region and its people benefits from a peaceful area and from foreign investment that creates jobs. It’s the evolution loop.

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Posted by on 04/10/2011 in Development



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