I’ve been thinking about that we actually mean by development, and came across this really good presentation on Slideshare which, I think, sums up the main issues and approaches commonly used to define development:
For me, my preferred definition is the one in the 2009 paper The New Enlightenment article by Sebastiao Ferreira, a Brazilian citizen living in Peru who I had the great pleasure of meeting at a conference in September 2011. He argues that:
Development is, most of all, the result of the synergy among millions of innovative initiatives people take everyday in their local societies, generating new and more effective ways of producing, trading, and managing their resources and their institutions. The work of policy makers and development agencies may contribute greatly to the success of those initiatives, may shape them, or may undermine those efforts.
This also relates to Robin Mansell’s vision of development in her 2010 publication Power and interests in developing knowledge societies: exogenous and endogenous discourses in contention which proposes the need for an endogenous, internally generated development as opposed to external, exogenous one:
…an endogenous model of development, one that focuses more directly on human beings and their resources and aspirations. The endogenous model is greatly overshadowed by the exogenous model in policy discourses. This has serious consequences – socially, culturally and economically – because the exogenous model (and indeed some versions of the endogenous model), cloaks the interests of investors in the global North‘ whose principal ambition is profits from the sale of digital technologies and the content that is hosted on or circulated through them.