Development is a process that creates growth, brings in progress and positive change. This can be seen as economic growth and increased incomes or the provision of services like education and healthcare. It can also refer to the social development of people in society. This includes improving their quality of life, allowing them to participate in community activities and providing them with opportunities to learn new skills.
The definition of development is contested, and there are many theories on the subject. Some believe that development should focus on economic growth, whereas others think that social development is more important. Others think that both economic and social development are necessary to improve people’s lives.
The term development has also been used to refer to the international assistance industry, which is an important part of the global economy. This includes the aid agencies, foundations, NGOs and multinational corporations that are involved in this sector. The development industry often aims to help poor countries by transferring knowledge and resources from ‘developed’ to ‘developing’ nations.
Some scholars believe that the idea of development is based on colonially embedded notions of modernisation and linear progress, which are often applied to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This is disputed by other scholars who argue that a universal approach is needed, and that issues of poverty, inequality and sustainability should be addressed as much in Brighton as in Bamako or Bogota.
The way we think about development is heavily influenced by the culture in which we live. Some researchers favour interactionist meta-theories, while others prefer more mechanistic ones. This is because the search for a ‘trait gene’ or the discovery of a brain system, hormone or neurotransmitter linked to a certain personality type suggest that human development is caused by some innate characteristics.