Economic Development and Traditional Social Structures: Some Theoretical Considerations

Publication Year : 1988

This paper discusses some issues currently preoccupying social scientists with respect to the process of development and its implications for Third World countries. These issues have become highly significant considering the momentum and nature of the development process being launched in the so-called “underdeveloped” world, within the context of modern nation-states. Therefore, in this paper, we seek to identify: (a) What is meant by development; (b) How the encounter between this process and traditional social structures (with their own functional logic, based on earlier forms of production and social existence) takes place; (c) What the implications of this encounter are; and (d) What lessons we can learn in this regard from history and anthropology. Development as a planned and organized process, the prime issue concerning both local and Western experts in Third World countries, is a recent phenomenon in comparison to the exposure of Third World countries to the Western Industrial system. The former gained momentum subsequent to the decolonization of the bulk of the Third World in the last half of this century, whereas the latter dates to at least the beginning of this century, if not earlier, when the repercussions of colonization, and later the two World Wars, became manifest in these countries.

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