Alternatives to development

Post-development has vehemently rejected the idea of development (in the Western sense, though). And it is but logical that when you reject something, you propose an alternative. And post-development calls for alternatives to development. This is actually opposed to alternative forms of development which we talked about previously. There are three prominent alternatives: community economiesagency of practitioners, and focus on wealth.


In community economies, the discourse is shifted from a deficits-based to assets-based. The discourse puts focus on what communities have, rather than what they don’t have. In this way, post-development thinkers call for alternative economies centred on non-capitalist community development. Development is basically in the hands of the community itself, and not on external forces.


In talking about the agency of practitioners, post-development thinkers approach the fluidity of hegemony and create a space for agency. They view development work as a political process and those who practice development are agents for change. Conversely, this creates an opportunity to challenge those who wield power. Therefore participatory approaches (especially the revolutionary types) are very important in this discourse.


Finally, another alternative is to focus on wealth. This alternative basically questions the consumption patterns of the wealthy (and therefore has links to environmental critiques). In a way, this discourse accuses the wealthy of greed – having to consume most of the world’s resources without leaving a sustainable amount for the rest of the world. It is this greediness that kept the Third World in misery.


Sounds nice aye? But these alternatives seemingly uncritically celebrated rural societies, therefore depicting culture as a static. Is post-development and its so-called alternatives a new ideology or just a new set of jargon to describe the old ways of development?


I personally think that post-development works better in the field that it could on paper (refer to the post re: Buen Vivir in Ecuador). There are things that look good on theory but fail on practice, and vice versa. One thing I could note though: why not try it to see if it actually works?  And probably, post-development could work as a tool in advancing other notions of development?


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