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Development criticism refers to far reaching criticisms of modernization and its central aspects: modern technology, industrialization, capitalism and often also globalization of economy. Very closely related, overlapping concept is anti-modernism. Often development critics see modernization as harmful for both humans and environment. Development critical movements represent a wide range of critiques, including appeals to tradition, religion, spirituality, environmentalism, aesthetics, pacifism or agrarian virtues.

Environmental issues are important for development critics. Many of them even have first arrived to development critical conclusions because they see modern society as a threat for environment.

Also the happiness of people is one of the central themes in development critical writings. Modern societies - despite of all their goal-orieted complexity and amount of labour time - do not help people to reach happiness according to critics. Instead, happiness is often seen as harder to reach in modern society compared to primitive ones.

Often development critics criticize concepts used in modern societies, such as poverty and other welfare-related conceptualizations such as human development index and gross national product. According to critics, these kind of concepts make misleadingly the life of primitive or alternative societies to look dull for modern people. For example, high longevity level is seen as an objectively good thing, which according to critics, is wrong. Modern societies have subjective standards for welfare, but they apply these standards universally and (mis)judge other societies with them. Also attempts to develop non-developed societies are often seen as cause of misery and trouble. It is thus recommended that the development project should be cancelled. Some even see the word "development" as negative and think that it represents the conceptual imperialism.

The most well known development critic is Mohandas Gandhi, who critisized heavily modern technology and many other characteristics of western culture. He - like many other development critics - recommened local food production instead of modern trade. These days, similar thinkers often criticize contemporary globalization.

Development critics can be pacifists like Gandhi or use violence like Unabomber. Development critics are often politically left leaned and favour ideas such as pacifism and local-level democracy though there are also notable expections. Development critics are in most of cases humanists but some of them are also misanthropists who blame the human nature for the destruction of environment.

Also some religious organizations, like for example Roman Catholic Church, have time to time taken anti-modernist and development critical stances by critizising modern technology or other principal characteristics of prevailing societies.

In modern academic discussion, post-development (and some other post-modernist lines of thinking), have been advocates of development critical views. Of academic disciplines, development criticism is most closely connected with development studies and anthropology.

Famous development criticsEdit

See also Edit

Development criticial literatureEdit

  • Arturo Escobar: Encountering Development (1994)
  • Development Dictionary (ed. Wolfgang Sachs, 1991)
  • Mohandas Gandhi: Hind Swaraj (1909)
  • Ivan Illich: Tools for Conviviality (1973)
  • Post-Development Reader (ed. Majid Rahnema, 1997)
  • Henry Thoreau: Walden (1854)


External links Edit

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