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Beyond Modernization and Development, or Why the Poor Reject Development

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This paper examines the processes and impact of modernization and development paradigms upon poor communities in non-Western societies. It traces the original classical meaning of modernization as being a process of transformation of the rural economy into modern industrial urban-based capitalist society. This transformed society at a later stage through colonization exports "modern development" to these non-Western societies but with very different consequences in terms of their impact on the lives of millions of people who are marginalized and exploited through these means.

Instead of transforming their agriculture into modern industrial development, these societies are subjected to a "reverse modernization" in which the prior European industrial relations and structure are superimposed on to the traditional structures of the Third World using neo-traditional ideologies and structures as part of the process of penetration. This "enforced development" is resisted in many parts of the world and rejected through diverse means including post-traditionalism. The paper ends by posing questions as to what are the appropriate responses to modernization and development as we move towards the twenty-first century.

Keywords: development in practice; development studies; development theory; post-developmentalism; postmodernism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0435-3684.1997.00019.x

Affiliations: African Study Centre, Mbale, Uganda

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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