Economic Development and Traditional Social Structures: Some Theoretical Considerations

Soofia Mumtaz


This paper discusses some issues currently preoccupying social
scientists with respect to the process of development and its
implications for Third World countries. These issues have become highly
significant considering the momentum and nature of the development
process being launched in the so-called "underdeveloped" world, within
the context of modern nation-states. Therefore, in this paper, we seek
to identify: (a) What is meant by development; (b) How the encounter
between this process and traditional social structures (with their own
functional logic, based on earlier forms of production and social
existence) takes place; (c) What the implications of this encounter are;
and (d) What lessons we can learn in this regard from history and
anthropology. Development as a planned and organized process, the prime
issue concerning both local and Western experts in Third World
countries, is a recent phenomenon in comparison to the exposure of Third
World countries to the Western Industrial system. The former gained
momentum subsequent to the decolonization of the bulk of the Third World
in the last half of this century, whereas the latter dates to at least
the beginning of this century, if not earlier, when the repercussions of
colonization, and later the two World Wars, became manifest in these

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