The place of Culture and Tradition in Theories of Development
By: Sewnet Mekonnen Department of Sociology Delhi School of EconomicsUniversity of Delhi2006
This essay is an attempt to show how culture and tradition have been conceptualized inthe theories/approaches of development. For this purpose major theories of developmentwill first be described and how culture and tradition configure in those approaches isindicated. Concluding remarks will be made based on what has been presented.Until recently the significance of culture has been played down by writers andcommentators on the issue. Such neglect of culture and tradition has been mainlyattributed to the timing and locus of the emergence of development theory itself,(Fukuyama, 2001:3134).The emergence of development theory as a separate body of ideas coincides with the endof the second world war (WW II) in 1945, the time when Western Europe was devastated by the war and the United States of America emerged as a major political and economic power in the world. This the time when many countries in Asia a Africa got their independence from colonial rule and the beginning of the Cold War in which the USAstarted every means available to contain Russian led communism from spreading to thenewly independent countries .This had important implications in terms of the underlyingassumption, methodology, and policy options of development, (Worsely, in Skelton andAllen, 1999:30).
is considered to be the major development theory which evolved from twoideas about social change that developed in the 19
century: 1) the conception of
traditional versus modern societies
that viewed development associetal evolution in progressive stages of growth.According to modernization theory, problems that held back the industrialization of poor countries were related to irrational ways in which resources are allocated in suchsocieties. Tradition had no function to perform in development; it is in fact an obstacle to