Comparative Development Studies: In Search of the World View

  • Book Title:
 Comparative Development Studies
  • Book Author:
Masudul Alam Choudhury
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Development studies is at an extraordinarily interesting stage. For a longtime the field was dominated by the concept of a “Third World” poised between capitalism and socialism, with states seen as choosing a suitable development strategy for their own nations. Much analysis was devoted to determining the constraints, both international and domestic, on the selection of an appropriate strategy, and while it provided a critical commentary on many contemporary policies, it also pointed to ways in which authentic development objectives might be reached.

it now appears that the market provides the only feasible path to development, and the recipe of “structural adjustment” is freely available to those who have not yet found it for themselves. Such a triumph for the market makes the term “Third World” obsolete.

With the new realism on economic matters goes a similar reorientation of politics and ethics, insuring us to the range of human suffering imposed by these processes of readjustment. in this context, is it possible for development studies to rethink the relationship between economics, politics, and ethics in such a way as to recover a relevant critical optimism?

Masudul Choudhury has taken an important step in demonstrating how such a reconceptualization can proceed. Working within the tradition of fonnal analysis, he has demonstrated the limitations of all the current theoretical positions, and has shown how ethics can become the core of a new, scientific theory of development. As markets are ethici:ı.ed within democratic politics, the prospect is opened up ofa new set of development policies which finally escape from the hegemony that the North has exercised over the South.

This text is based on a set of lecturers delivered to first-year students in comparative development studies who found the perspective developed here quite exhilarating. 1 hope that many other generations will find such an introduction a good guide to the field development studies must now confront.

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This work has two distinct aspects. First, it undertakes a critical examination of several mainstream economic doctrines that have been theoretically and institutionally invoked in the study and practice of socio-economic development to date. Several ethical theories of development comprised in this mainstream approach are also critically studied in this work. The second aspect comprises an ethical theory of development based on an endogenous core.

A formalization is developed toward evolving an ethico–economic world view of development in the context of this endogenous treatment of ethics in the rich field of polity-market interactions. in the midst of this ethical world-view construct, the central point of focus, one that propels the understanding and realization of socio-economic development and progress, is shown to be knowledge evolution.

Hence, the ethico­ economic world view of development is shown to be a knowledge­based model of realizing progress from moment to moment of social evolution.

in summary, the following will present our central area of critical examination under various shades of methodological investigation: we will study how the ethico-economic world view of development is treated in an analytical and policy-theoretic way under the concepts of human-centred development and poverty-centred development.

The critical variables used in this particular investigation will be human­resource development, grassroots decision-making, formation of property rights, population and sustainable development of both the human and natural environments. The premises of markets and grassroots democracy are invoked as the functional media for realizing the ethical transformation. The simultaneity of economic efficiency and distributive equity (social justice) is thus shown to be attainable through the joint use of the market phenomenon with a sound polity.

The interactions in terms of the polity and the market system, and in respect of the various key variables mentioned above, can be summarized in Figure A.

Some of the interactions among the concentric regions of relation­ships in Figure A can be explained as follows. The poverty-centred f ocus (PC) is addressed primarily by human-resource development (HRD) among the poor. This inculcates knowledge, which simulta…

1 The Concept of the World View in Comparative Politico-Economic Perspective

The following schema will constitute the substance of this chapter: an introduction will be given to current development issues in the light of traditional thinking in Development Studies. in discussing these issues, focus will be placed on the 1990 Stockholm Report (also referred to here as the Stockholm Initiative), Common Responsihility in the 1990s.1

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A critical review of the various development paradigms in the light of economic thinking will be undertaken. On this topic, the introductory parts of the book, Development Strategies Reconsidered, 2 will be considered. From these traditional perspectives and current issues of global development, the centrepiece of the world-view concept in development theorizing will be formalized.

 it will be shown that the concept of world view here revolves around the keynote of ethical primacy in all development issues. Ethics-centred global development will thus be shown to evolve in a natural way in an altogether new framework of development theory and perceptions from the main­stream one.


The quest for a scientific basis of comparative development study has now taken us through a labyrinth of economic doctrines. We have seen that if comparative development study is to be pursued as a scientific discipline, then it must be based on the premise of a world view rather than one of cultural pluralism and non-uniqueness of precepts.

 Now when we try to address comparative development study through the economic lens, we find a continuous search for newer paradigms in economic reasoning. However, these developments have not led to the emergence of the world view in economic theorizing. Comparative development study thus continues to be influenced by the inherently pluralistic elements of these economic doctrines.

A principal aim of comparative development study must then be to develop the world­view outlook within which comparative doctrines can either be unified or be addressed analytically. Tbis, indeed, will be the approach to comparative development study that we will adopt in this work.

An initial direction for the study of comparative development in the above perspective can now be given. Our identification of the essence of a world view in the market system, pricing and value-oriented economic paradigm, whicb can unify the microeconomic and macroeconomic realities together, leads us to configurate such a system.34

 The problems and issues of comparative development can be studied, analysed and alternatives provided in comparison with this kind of a system. in this, we cannot be totally comfortable with any of the classical, neo-classical, Marxist and Keynesian schools. in other words, the existing literature of comparative development suffers from pluralistic treatment, precisely because of the study of problems of socio-economic development in the framework of these differing paradigms. Variations consequently in theory, policy and institutional

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