The crisis in development theory is a multiple one that is understood very differently by people with different ideological and theoretical perspectives. Most accept that the idea of development is directly linked to the changes ‘towards those types of social, economic and political systems’ created in Europe and the USA from the 17th century (Eisenstadt, 1966: but they often disagree over the objectives of these changes, their normative implications, and the way they should be managed. Modernization theorists like Eisenstadt saw this transition as a desirable, even inevitable process, but their views have always been challenged by a variety of radical voices, especially from the third world, that have rejected his equation of progress with western achievements, especially given the west’s formal commitment to ‘the principle of equality’, and its continuing tendency ‘to violate it in an extraordinarily systematic way’ (Besis, 2003: 5). And even those who have accepted this view have disagreed about how it should be done, and especially about the relationship between conscious social intervention and free markets in managing these transitions. This has produced competing liberal and structuralist traditions that have sustained what Polanyi (1944/2001: 152) has called a ‘double movement’ in policy theory — an oscillation between an extension of markets across the world and subsequent counter-tendencies invoking state intervention to protect societies ‘from the weaknesses and perils inherent in a self-regulating market system’.
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- Introduction: Reconstructing Development Theory for the 21st Century
E. A. Brett
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