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Power and Prejudices

Power and Prejudices

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Published by Ishara Mahat
This paper examines the challenges with modernization that needs to be addressed to create a parallel world
This paper examines the challenges with modernization that needs to be addressed to create a parallel world

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Ishara Mahat on Dec 28, 2010
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07/07/2013

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Power, Prejudices and Poor: Rethinking Development
Abstract:Development debates have always been centered on the edge of ‘powerful and powerless’ andthey become further ambiguous when the two are influenced by the development biases. In the process of development the modernists argue in favor of a common ground where everyone benefits from the modernization. On the other, the anti modernists put their views in a differentway: whether the modernization is positive or negative. In other words, if modernization brings acommon ground for all by alienating power divisions among gender, class and race or theopposite. Despite the significance of modernization for introducing human civilization into theworld, critical concerns are on equities and empowerment. The challenges are thus to ensurehuman freedom as a means and as an end so as to equalize the human capabilities for the well being of every human being. _______________________________________________________________________________ 
1. Introduction
Starting from Marx against the class antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat,Durkheim on organic vs. mechanical solidarity, and Habermas on public vs. privatesphere, no social theory is free from power analogy (Marx and Engels, 1998; Durkheim,1984; Habermas, 1989). Development discourse has largely been centered within the power paradigm. Power of modernization to bring the world into a parallel society isdebated against its power to create uneven society contributing to economic, political andsocial inequalities (Abdo, 1996; Frank, 1966; Ruffin, 1990). Development of ‘a few’ is perceived as an exploitation of ‘many’ and contributing to the ‘clash of civilizations’(Huntington, 1993; Ikeo, 2003; Weede, 1998). Rationale of science and technology has been questioned for undermining the social and cultural values, and ignoring the largesocial cost of transition (Granato, Inglehart, and Leblang, 1998; Facio, 2004; Smith,2005). Above all, economic progress for ‘human developmentor ‘human freedom’ has been a critical one in late modernization (Chamber, 2005; Friedman, 1992; Sen, 1999).1
 
Marx argued on expansion of human freedom (freedom to realize one’s fullest capacities)as one of the basic criterion of human progress (cited in Blackwell, Smith and Sorenson,2003: 153). In
The Communist Manifesto
Marx looks forward to a society “in which thefree development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (Marx andEngels 1998: 41). However, this requires a continuous struggle to relieve the human being from the existing restraints so as to alter their relation with nature and amongthemselves. Such struggles continue to exist with the aspirations of human equality andsocial justice, which requires the fullest realization of human capacities that permit anintellectual growth as well as an abundance of material wealth (Marx et.al.,1998;Blackwell, et.al.,2003).Amartya Sen (1992, 1999) a modern economist brings his capability approach, which isin line with Marxist views of human freedom. Sen argues that people’s real freedom for leading valuable life is based on their capabilities to enjoy positive state of life such as being politically active, being healthy or literate. The capabilities represent ‘what peoplecan do or be’, and not what they can consume or on their incomes (Sen, 1992: 50; Sen,1999: 18). The latter are however, the means of well being. Sen disagrees with theutilitarian judgments of an individual’s wellbeing which is only based on resources, butignores the intrinsic interpersonal capabilities (Deneulin, 2006; Ingrid, 2003; Sen, 1992).People’s abilities to convert resources into capabilities differ based on the personal, political and social factors such as physical and mental disability, tradition, social normsand values, country’s infrastructures, climate and so on (Deneulin, 2006; Robeyin, 2003;Sen. 1999). These factors highly contribute to inequalities in capabilities and thereby thewell being.
2. Power Paradigm and Modernization
As power relates to human capabilities, resources, and authorities, it is perceived as a toolof strengthening or destrengthening one’s capacity over the other. More precisely, power can be exercised by the one who have capacity to control others (Dean, 2006; Chambers,2
 
2005). It operates at every level within human society; global, to local and at inter  personal level (Dean, 2006: 69). Since human society is evolved from individual, tocommunity and nation, the power functions at different level. Friedmann (1992: 32) inhis alternative development approach introduced three types of power: social (havingaccess to information and resources and organizations), political (access to decisionmaking process) and psychological power (potency of self esteem to be able to access tosocial and political power). Empowerment as an alternative development strategy, hefocused on improving the conditions of people’s lives and livelihood that starts from thehousehold (Friedmann, 1992). Foucault (1982) sees power as a mode of actions uponactions. His model includes understandings of resistance as a form of power (cited inRowlands, 1997:12). Foucault (1977) argues that power is present in every humanrelations affecting one‘s actions over the other and penetrates throughout the society.‘Power is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the ‘privilege’ acquired or preserved,of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions (1977:26).Marx illustrated the power of capitalism to suppress the consciousness of working classand to blind them on their own exploitation (cited in Dean, 2006: 71). Durkheim (1984)focused on differentiation as ‘specializationand as an ‘individual power’ so as tocontribute efficiently to the whole. Parsons (1964) underlined the role of structuralfunctionalism as an ‘effective tieto exercise power, by which the four functions(adaptation, goal achievement, integration and maintenance) are plausible. Similarly,Habermas (1989) emphasized on public sphere as a means to bring power and freedom to people through a rational debate. Next to modernity, Frank (1966) argued on the power of capitalism in Latin America todivide the world into ‘development and underdevelopment’ through exploitation of resources from satellites to metropoles. Supporting to the views of Frank, other scholarssuch as Walter (1972), Wallerstein ((1977) argued strongly on dependency theory and power of colonialism to create uneven development in Africa and Europe respectively(cited in Chilcote, 1984). Marx (1972) also illustrated the power of British colonialism to‘deconstruct India’ through destroying the native Indian handlooms and native industry.3

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