Development and Change

Development and Change


Khan (Lamport)


Development is generally understood to mean growth or advancement along some important dimension or in some direction. It is a modern (post-enlightenment, post-industrial revolution) concept, and stands in contrast to Marxist thought about revolution brought on by dialectic materialism.  Ideas about both political and economic development, then, generally belong to the Western world of liberal democracies and developed market economies, typified by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Liberal democratic and capitalist development can have radical if not revolutionary impact on societies. Political, economic, and social dimensions of development (and change, more generally) are closely interlinked, each affecting others, whether in developed countries of the OECD, or in countries struggling to develop. Indeed, the global mobility of labour and capital in the post-Cold War world might suggest that the distinction between developed and developing worlds is no longer useful, as Friedman (2000) suggests in his chapter on the “Golden Straitjacket” of free-market globalization.

This week, we will focus on the intersection of economic and political development. Siaroff (2013) treats political, military, economic, and social development as manifestations of modernization.  Siaroff (2013, 732) describes ideas about the historic sequencing of political development: common identity leads to a sense of  political unity; legitimate state structures are developed; elite competition generates the development of political parties; party competition produces responsible government that constrains the action of governments; and eventually, voting rights expand. This sequence is based on historical research from the 1960s, so it is descriptive of the path taken by then-stable democracies, rather than prescriptive, and it’s not much help for the post-authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union.

Interrelated political, economic, and social changes brought on by development raise the potential for increasing or decreasing legitimacy of regimes, and the potential for regime overthrow. Coups, civil wars, and creeping authoritarianism have been linked to the modernization processes of post-Colonialism from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War. Democratization has also been linked to nationalist and inter-ethnic conflict (Snyder, 2000). Duffield (2014) points to the post-cold war phenomenon of humanitarian wars linked to the expansion of market economies.

Broad claims about the triumph of liberal democracy and the universal success of capitalism (Fukuyama, 2006) are contradicted by comparative research on varieties of post-authoritarian capitalism and the resulting different types of democracy, driven by pressures of globalization (Ido, 2012). If these different varieties of capitalism are conducive to different types of democracy, and if our own varieties of capitalism are being changed by globalization, then should we expect changes to our types of democracy too?

Learning objectives

  • Explain concepts of political and economic development
  • Analyze policy alternatives using evidence of the impact of different policies over time


To be confirmed by instructor after consultation with class coordinators

Activities before class

Explore through the readings and resources the following questions:

  1. What is development and why does it matter?
  2. How do political and economic development relate to each other?
  3. What are the normative and ideological elements of development policies?
  4. What are the roles of states, markets, and societies in pursuing development?
  5. How has globalization impacted development and development policies?
  6. What advantages and disadvantages do different types of regimes have in pursuing development?
  7. What support is there for ideas about sequencing political development?
  8. Is democracy promotion by developed countries linked to markets?
  9. Is democratic development linked to increased or decreased violence?

Activities during class

Class coordinator choices include the following activities:

  • compare quality of life in countries with different regimes, using the World Bank’s Human Development Index (HDI)
  • Consider the effect of democracy promotion and state capacity building by the OECD Development Assistance Committee, using OECD DAC criteria
  • Debate on investment in democracy: is it worthwhile, and for who? (Advocates vs skeptics) (Caramani, Ch. 25)
  • Table-top simulation for policy development by OECD development specialists: what do we know about the payoffs for different kinds of development assistance? How important is security sector reform? (Segue to Topic 8)

Activities after class

  • Review learning objectives.
  • Post questions and notes to Moodle.
  • Suggest exam questions
  • Select exam format by responding to survey on Moodle

Additional Resources

Caramani, Ch. 25, Promoting Democracy (Moodle)

Duffield, M. (2014). Global governance and the new wars: The merging of development and security. Zed Books. Preface (Moodle)

Friedman, T. (2000) Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. Farrer-Strauss. Chapter 6, “The Golden Straitjacket” (Moodle)

Fukuyama, F. (2006). The end of history and the last man. Simon and Schuster.

Ido,M. (2012) Varieties of Capitalism, Types of Democracy, and Globalization. Routledge, Chapter 1 (Moodle)

Meier and Stiglitz (2001) Frontiers of Development Economics. World Bank and Oxford University Press. The full text is linked, but focus on the introduction and p. 3 which sketches the evolution of ways of thinking about development.

OECD, DAC Criteria for Evaluating Development Assistance.

Sen, A. (2011) Quality of life: India vs. China. New York Review of Books

World Bank, Human development Index.

Siaroff, A. (2013) Comparing Political Regimes: A thematic introduction to comparative politics, 3rd edition. University of Toronto Press. Chapter 2 “Development and Political Development”  (Moodle)

Snyder, J. (2000) From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict. Norton.

Staniland, P. (2014). Violence and democracy. Comparative Politics, 47(1), 99-118.

Woolcock, M. and Nanyan, D. (1999) Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy.

Woolcock, M. (2000) Social Capital and Economic Development