A forum to foster dialogue across disciplines on issues related to culture and development.and their implications for public action. Based on the book:

Culture and Public Action, Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (editors), Stanford University Press, 2004. The South Asia Edition has been published by Permanent Black.


Contributors (In Order of Chapters in the Book):

Amartya Sen, Arjun Appadurai, Mary Douglas, Marco Verweij, Timur Kuran, Arjo Klamer, Lourdes Arizpe, Sabina Alkire, Anita Abraham, Jean-Phiippe Platteau, Monica Das Gupta, Carol Jenkins, Fernando Calderon, Alicia Szmuckler, Simon Harragin, Shelton Davis,Vijayendra Rao, Michael Walton

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Sociology of Development

In this section:

An Overview on the Sociology of Development

The Sociological Classics and Development

Modernization Theory

Dependency and World Systems Approaches

New Comparative Institutionalism

Globalization and Development

Social Capital Approach to Development

Further Reading


In contemporary sociology, the study of development does not enjoy the institutional recognition as a sub-field of the discipline; nor does sociology offer a coherent theoretical framework or set of methods for the analysis of developmental processes. However, sociologists engage extensively in questions linked to the causes and consequences of development, and their findings often entail surprising policy implications.

In historical perspective, the study of development has been a core theme of sociology. The works of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim --the nineteenth-century founders of sociology-- all centered around the puzzle of how to describe and explain the transformation from agrarian to complex, industrialized societies in Western Europe between the 17th and the 19th century. In this sense, the discipline emerged out of the interest in understanding economic, social, and political processes today labeled as "development."

Today, we can identify at least three major approaches in the sociological study of development. Much of contemporary sociology focuses on institutions as the driving force (or barrier) to democratization, economic growth, or social welfare provisions, taking on a comparative vantage point. This "new comparative institutionalism" (Evans and Stephens 1988) was formulated both as a critique and a recombination of elements from modernization, and dependency and world-system approaches. This approach stresses the critical role of class relations and the state as an autonomous actor in understanding development processes. More recently, sociologists have become increasingly interested in how processes of "globalization" impact the development trajectories of nation-states, regions, and cities. Globalization perspectives highlight the importance of global flows of material and symbolic goods and the mediation of these flows through both local and national structure. Further, a "social capital" approach has gained prominence within sociology emphasizing the explanatory power of social network configurations and the resources engrained in them for the explanation of development outcomes (Woolcock 1998). At the same time, the concept of development itself has been scrutinized in recent debates. Sociologists discuss the institutional and societal implications of the "capability approach"(Sen 1999), in which development is thought about as the expansion of individuals' capacity to pursue choices they have reason to value rather than remaining exclusively associated with growth and technological change. In this sense, while entailing a diverse set of more specific policy implications, these major sociological approaches and discussions share a rally cry for policies that focus on the social and cultural dimension of well being and empowerment beyond individualistic and utilitarian principles.

Famous Sociologists (A fabulous, endlessly instructive, site)

[Further Reading]


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