Development Theory

In Amartya Sen’s book Development as Freedom he discusses the theory behind development on a global scale. Sen concludes that freedom and development are intertwined. Development can only be achieved by expanding the true freedoms that people experience. Freedom for Sen depends on a number of factors. Freedom means opening up social and economic opportunities for people, ensuring the preservation or granting of political and civil rights, and depends in large part on industrialization and technological progress.  Development requires removing the “unfreedoms” the people are subjected to. These unfreedoms include poverty, lack of economic opportunities, systematic social deprivation, lack of participation and representation in governance, and lack of access to health and education. These unfreedoms hinder development and as long as they are perpetuated sustainable development will be impossible.

A lack of access to health resources is essential because is people cannot meet their basic needs for survival than any sort of progress in other areas is unachievable. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates it perfectly in that if one cannot meet their needs at one level it is impossible to advance to the next level. Education is also essential to increasing literacy rates as well as economic opportunities. The freedoms being outlined are not separate freedoms but are interconnected at many levels. Education leads to literacy and literacy can give people the opportunity to increase their participation in political and civil matters. Education can create better economic opportunities for people which in turn can better the social conditions and access to resources. Social and political freedoms often give rise to economic freedoms. The various freedoms strengthen one another and create a network of freedoms that hold one another up and allow the country to develop.

Furthering sustainable development requires participation by multiple actors. First and arguably the most crucial is state level action. The state is essential to creating policy that will further development for its people. But states alone cannot pull themselves into a developed nation. Economic opportunities require input from industry and corporations to provide jobs and to bring capital into the country. A country cannot be considered developed without the political participation of the citizens of the state. Fair and equal voting free from tampering is one of the signifying features of a developed state.