The term ‘development’ is one that has many different meanings. While many overlap, some inherently contradict each other. To many people development is either a process or outcome that is often bad in terms of its impact on people and the societies in which they live. Some others see development as both a process and an outcome, and as necessarily good. These people see development as something that should be actively sought after. And to complicate matters further, there are many others who define development in many different ways. This chapter broadly attempts to identify, explain and resolve those issues by introducing and outlining various conceptualizations of development. Such an exercise is an important one: if we are to study something, it is essential to first understand what we are studying. It is especially important in a study of development, for without a definition of this term we cannot determine whether a country is achieving higher levels of development, or whether it should be considered developed, developing or underdeveloped. It is also important for development practice. Development practitioners, irrespective of whether they are involved in policy, planning or in implementing development projects, need a working definition of what it is they are seeking to achieve. This chapter looks at various definitions of development. Such an exercise necessarily requires an examination of theoretical material about what development is or ought to be. The chapter adopts a largely chronological examination, given that many new definitions are actually responses to earlier ones.
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