Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Development and Underdevelopment: A Sociological Perspective


The concept of development gained momentum by the second half of the 20th century when most of the present-day less developed countries emerged as independent nations after their long subjugation to the colonial rule and set out on the path of their own planned economic progress. A development like modernization is a concept, which was used to analyze the level of social, economic and political progress in colonial countries on the lines of progress attained by the /west and the Renaissance and the Industrial revolution. Social, political and economic changes took place in Western Europe became the parameters of development and modernization to assess the level of progress made by the developing countries on this path. That is why Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is treated as the first treatise on development economics, a systematic study of development began only in the middle of the 20th century when problems of developing countries attracted the attention of economists and other social scientists. Development, therefore, emerged as a relative concept which presupposed a comparison of the less developed countries of Asia, Africa, and America with the developed countries of the West. There has been a periodic shift in the concept of development ever since its inception in academic writings. This shift has been in correspondence with the changing experiences of development in the less developed countries and the ideological approach of looking development and progress in society. Under the above backdrop, the paper would present a detailed sociological perspective of the theories of development and underdevelopment from 1950 till present.


Keywords: Development, Underdevelopment, Modernization, Capitalism, Imperialism .