In this chapter we explore the key ideas put forward, especially in the last half-century or so, on development and underdevelopment, and place these concepts in the context of the major trends, conditions and prevailing ideologies within the emerging global system. The dominant ideas on the nature and genesis of the very process of development have themselves gone through a series of transformations during this period, but strong counterarguments have also emerged constantly. Thus the history of ideas on development can be characterized as a series of revolutions and counter-revolutions, and in many cases the key ideas from a particular period have re-emerged in a new guise at a later date. While successful development concerns much more than just economic processes or outcomes, economic issues have dominated much of the literature as well as the policy debate, and these key questions relating to economic development are explored in detail in Chapter 3. We also argue that most fundamental changes take place in response to crises of various kinds that challenge accepted paradigms, and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) – discussed in detail in Chapter 4 – has since 2007 shaken the foundations of the global economy and has had a major impact on our thinking about competing theories of development. The GFC was the result of some fundamental changes taking place in the global political economy, and in turn the crisis itself caused some further transformations to the structure and operation of the overall system, and these changes, their causes and their impacts will be explored at various points in Chapters 3 and 4 and in this chapter.
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