Theory = Speculative View (until proven)
Hypothesis with logical argument(s) to explain
Can be used for predictions about phenomena.
Expected to follow principles of rational thought & logic.
In Social Science - scholars develop hypothesis & collect evidence to prove their theory. No
evidence = rejected.
Theory can be accepted if there is strong evidence, no need to test all predictions. Why?
Test can unfeasible
Unconfirmed prediction, test later. Predicted result referred to as ‘Theoretical Perspective’ –
if proved wrong later must be revised / theory rejected
Social Theory Traditions
Social theory begins with ordinary questions. Ex/some accept authority, other reject it, why?
Social theory = nonspiritual alternative to religion as an explanation
1 Tradition = leviathan
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) after bloody war between Catholics & Protestants,
Hobbes’s Leviathan offered a worldly theory of social order.
Argued: society is founded on authority (leviathan = law giver) – needed for stability
No Leviathan = war against all & life is rough
Adapted by Karl Marx & Lenin, transformed lawgiver into Communist revolutionary
2 Tradition = Devotion
From Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778).
Devotion, not fear = foundation of social order
Justice exceeds inequality - justice needs social contract(pop. must submit to general will)
Private freedom depends on public equality – needs a “lawgiver.”
Durkheim later pursued the link between social solidarity & religious sentiment.
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) - Equally concerned with roots of order & governance
Third tradition is more cautious.
Writing after the French Revolution (1789–1799), Tocqueville the aristocrat pondered the
implications of equality.
Societies emphasizing equality were hostile toward exceptional talent
In equalized societies, all is in doubt.
Max Weber (1864–1920) stressed probing the religious roots of capitalism. Emphasized
hierarchical rationality of government bureaucracy. Weber claimed how modern
organizations grew ever larger, more rational, and more hierarchical. Seeking a “value-
neutral” perspective, Weber argued that modern society is increasingly subject to “rational
authority,” as opposed to “traditional” or “charismatic authority.”
1 Week 2
Development – contextual strands in theory
Development theory = product of post–WW2 thinking
Global development was initiated. Europe & Japan rebuilding, Colonies facing poverty
Development comprised of: the idea of…
Modernization of economic & social institutions,
Sustained economic growth within national economy,
Improvement of well-being of the global population
Extensive utilization of world’s resources,
Replacement of “traditional” development
Development theory has developed via…
Economics - theories of efficient markets, trade, and income distribution
Sociology - research on processes of social change around the world
Anthropology - research on the values & practices of non-Western cultures
Political Science - research on institutions that drive international policy
History - research on circumstances that created modern institutions
Social Sciences – focus on inequality, freedom, etc. – that impact institutions
Vague outline, but they fall short of a full & general approach to development.
Development theory = expansive interdisciplinary field
Decolonization & aftermath of WW2 - stimulated economic growth & development
Established World Bank & IMF (1944) for reconstruction of post WWII Europe later
became the biggest creditor institution for 3 world.
Economic Theories for Development
Neoclassical economic - formed on principal of demand & supply
Neoliberal development - free trade, open markets, privatization, deregulation
Dual Economy - capital intensive primary sector & labour intensive secondary sector
Then came perspective of distribution, welfare, & alleviating poverty in developing world:
Millennium Development Goals (Sep. 2000) to be achieved by 2015
End of poverty and hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equity, Child Health, Maternal
Health, Combat HIV/AIDs, Environmental Sustainability, Global Partnership
Developed Country – High standard of life, modern infrastructure, Economy self-sustaining
Developing Country – Low standard of living, undeveloped industrial base, low HDI
South - oriented Definition
Process which enables humans to realize their potential & growth of society
Frees people from fear of want & exploitation (movement away from oppression)
Basic goal: enlarge range of people’s choices - make development democratic
Choices include: decent wages, employment opportunities, education, and healthcare…
2 Gilbert Rist’s Definition (Starting Point)
Require transformation / destruction of environment & social relations
Why? For reproduction of society – increase the production of commodities for demand
Development = practices (sometimes conflicting)
Practices: Innumerable - What is hoped vs. what actually occurs (envisioned ≠ reality)
Ex/ conflicts: Some practices promote international trade, others hold it back (duty)
Reproduction of society
Practices enable world system to expand to ensure existence of societies or social classes.
Transformation of natural environment
Transformation entails destruction - Every phenomenon of production involves destruction
Transformation of social relations
New economic approach maintains - everything is scarce (resources) & nothing is free
Karl Marx on capitalism: “bourgeoisie have reduced family relation to a money relation”
Rist agrees: Things once personal & outside of a market, can be bought, Ex/ sperm bank
To increase production of commodities (g/s)
More = better & Growth = necessity.
Geared to effective demand:
People produce to sell, so they can buy something else.
Modern anthro: based on equality, leads to inequality as people = utility seeking traders
Rist & Durkheim (Rist builds on Durkheim’s)
Religion = beliefs of given social group in certain undeniable truths (determines behaviour)
Durkheim: society need religion, it is an ‘eminently social thing’
Detour via religion raises new question. Development = modern religion? …
Western arrogance to consider modern society as different, society builds upon tradition
Necessary to reject “great divide” between “tradition” & “modernity”
Beliefs = propositions
Those who share them act in a particular way. Even if everyone personally questions
the validity, it is impossible to escape the collective obligation it involves.
Belief = performative (people must believe it, so they can act in a certain way)
Development = belief + series of practices (can’t separate, linked to each other)
Forms a single whole in spite of contradictions between them.
So Development is…
A means towards a general objective (corresponds to needs of society)