chapter  Chapter 1
18 Pages

The Interpretation of Development

WithWilfred L. David

The interpretation of development can be located within the age-old epistemological debate about the validity of “objective” vis-a-vis “subjective” or relativistic dimensions of truth. The perspectival nature of interpretation suggests that all understanding is situation-bound, that is, from a given background or context. The major theoretical interpretations and policy perspectives of development have roughly followed in the footsteps of general economics. The idea is that the possibilities for the growth of scientific knowledge are always inextricably linked to the historical, psychological, and socio-cultural practices that influence the belief patterns of economists and other social scientists. Accordingly, interpretation is both a social and political practice. “That interpretation takes place within a context or background of beliefs and practices implies that it is social, and hence it is infused with political relations of power and domination”. In both mainstream economics and the development discourse opposing interpretations are not only distorted, but also conclusively “refuted” and then largely ignored.