Three Concepts

When considering a development project, the way in which things are measured and worded has a large effect on the project mechanisms and outcomes. The three concepts outlined by Andy Sumner and Michael Tribe in International Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and Practice are Development as a long term process of structural societal transformation, Development as a short-to-medium term outcome of desirable targets, and Development as a dominant discourse of western modernity. All three of these are presented as separate entities with different processes and outcomes. Despite this, one would hope that all three could be used in a way to make a cohesive form of development.

Development as a long term process has been attributed to academia as it is not practiced as often as it is spoken about. While the rhetoric of development has a clear impact on the way people think and how they wish to act through it, it is true that the idealistic ways in which long term development is projected does not easily lend itself to implementation.

Development as a short-to-medium term process is more measured than the long term processes desired by academics. There are performance goals and indicators that allow for this measurement to be documented within the development community and understood by funding groups and International Organizations. While this approach is able to tangibly accomplish more than long term processes, it typically only scratches the surface of the issue and has the ability to leave an even larger issue than before.

Development as a dominant discourse of Western modernity is a concept that criticizes the two aforementioned concepts. As a whole, it argues that the development being done may not benefit the communities reached in the correct ways. For example, a development scheme may detract from a community’s ability to engage in a cultural event. Considering the development community takes Western models and applies them elsewhere, this has some validity. It creates a superiority complex that continues to drive down those in receipt of development. Even with this, there are not many solutions offered that have been taken seriously.

Because all three of these have their positives and their drawbacks, they can play of each other to learn new techniques and measurement methods. Along with the third concept of development, the people being benefited can have input and truly benefit from the projects being implemented.