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Development Thinking—Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

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Abstract:

Theoretically, Development Studies has been claimed to be moving out of its previous impasse. However, its policy implication has traditionally been rather weak, and on this account no large improvements are presently visible. A strong call for relevancy has emerged in the middle of the 1990s, from the same writers who claim that we are now moving beyond the impasse in development theory. Somehow this opens up a niche for development geography, if its strong background in field work can be combined in a dialogue based on theoretical issues. This paper illustrates how the teaching of development in the field can bring up new issues, to be discussed thoroughly within some kind of a dialectical dialogue. The teaching of development finds itself trapped in a controversy, that could be termed as a development crisis. However, existing contradictions in the debate can nurture the more intense probing into the nature of development. Combined with field work experience, this paves the way for a dialogue in which many of the axiomatic truths are turned upside-down. Matters—such as the conflict between modernization and traditional values, the meaning of development, and the role of various actors in the development process—are all focused in an intensive discussion.

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

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0435-3684.1997.00020.x

Affiliations: University of Göteborg

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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