Development Theory and Actors

This week, we talked about development theory and actors. In this post, I discuss the paradigm shifts in development theory throughout history, the role and significance of the CRPD, and how development theories connect to inclusive recreation.

This week, we discussed the historical significance of ‘development’ and how the definition, actors, and strategies have changed throughout history. Originally, development was seen as an economic process that focused on GDP, income per capita, and measures like unemployment. In our modern world, we see development as not only an economic process, but also a social, cultural, environmental, and political process. Our definition of development is now more comprehensive, and according to Amartya Sen, development is freedom, where people are free to make their own personal choices in society. Development depends on a country’s capability of “… expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy” (Sen, p. 3). These include political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security (Sen, p. 10).

One topic from our discussion was the impact the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) had on disability policy. The CRPD prompted a paradigm shift, from a medical model to a social justice based model of disability. Some even argue that it went beyond that and created a human rights model of disability. Now, the paradigm is focused more on a societal and macro-micro level, rather than an individual level. For countries that signed and ratified the convention, the CRPD helps societies embrace diversity, emphasize equality of persons with disabilities, and promote access to opportunities to live their life, just like anyone else. There are several obligations that come with ratifying the CRPD, such as required non-discrimination legislation. One criticism, however, is that the CRPD is monitored independently at the national and international level, so there is little-to-no enforcement mechanisms in place. In other cases, like the U.S., some countries choose to not ratify. It’s then important to look critically at the impacts this has on disability accessibility and equity in those countries.

Furthermore, when doing more research about my capstone project, the diffusion of innovations development theory came up several times. This theory seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread (Schleien & Miller). In class, we discussed ideological and institutional changes across time (what development means, how we achieve it, what time frame do we set). This theory provides a framework to look at why and how social changes occur, and in regards to my project, this theory can help us understand what must occur for inclusive recreation practices to become more systemic and institutional (Schleien & Miller, p. 93). In other words, what can we do as a society in order to make recreational opportunities more accessible and inclusive? Are local D.C. laws and the ADA sufficient, or we do we need to integrate the CRPD?

Diffusion of Innovation: A Roadmap for Inclusive Community Recreation Services:
By Stuart J. Schleien and Kimberly D. Miller

Development as Freedom: By Amartya Sen