The idea of ‘development’ of the world’s poorer countries is contested in its meaning and, therefore, in approaches to it. This contestation has been reflected in varying approaches to the field over the period in which it has been studied, principally since the conclusion of the Second World War. Yet the idea of development is central to the processes by which countries, particularly poorer, developing and post-colonial countries, organize themselves. This book assesses the key issues that such countries are required to address as they try to work towards improving the living standards of their citizens, normatively to eliminate absolute poverty, as well as to construct a political and social environment in which such material benefit can take place. If this book takes a particular approach to the subject, it is by trying to capture the key elements of the field in overview, identifying their main themes and some of the more normative approaches. It does not, however, try to suggest a singular approach to development, nor does it fall into the trap of the latest development ‘fashion’ being necessarily more valuable than those that have preceded it. Indeed, if there is one unifying theme, it is that the fundamental or underlying goals that have informed the development project – the qualitative improvement in the lives of the world’s poor – have not essentially changed. How to go about achieving such improvement, however, has been proposed, questioned, challenged and re-invented.
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