Thinking about Development

Bjorn Hettne


A concise and accessible introduction to development thinking, contemporary development theory and practice, and a critical analysis of the values that lie behind them.
This book is a concise and accessible introduction to development thinking, contemporary development theory and practice and - a critical analysis of the values that lie behind them. Hettne argues that schools of development thinking should be historically contextualized, not presented as evolving towards a universal theory. The book will present development as an 'essentially contested concept', that has meant a number of things at various times to different people in different places. Focusing on historical discourses from the initial colonial encounters through to the modern day, Hettne draws the connections between the enlightenment belief in 'progress' through to the more recent focus on the Millennium Development Goals. The first volume in the 'Development Matters' series this book provides the key frame for the series as a whole, enabling readers to locate texts on themes such as environmental justice, technology and development learning within a broader historical, conceptual and political context than the immediate policy and output needs of neoliberalism.

Author Bio

Bjorn Hettne is Professor Emeritus of Peace and Development Studies at Gothenburg University. His main research has been in India, and he has written a large number of books and articles on development theory, global regionalism, international relations, the development-security nexus, as well as Europe and the world order.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Development studies and development thinking
  • 1. Theoretical framework
  • 2. The original transition
  • 3. The pursuit of progress
  • 4. The modernisation imperative
  • 5. Planning in 'dark times'
  • 6. The geopolitics of poverty
  • 7. Globalization and disorder
  • 8. In search of global development
  • Conclusion: Towards global social theory


'This scholarly yet accessible and clearly-written book should be read by everyone with an interest in current global issues. Rescuing critical development thinking from the 'cul de sac' of the post-developmentalists, Hettne argues that a concept of global development remains central to the rethinking and restucturing of international relationships if we are to engage fully with the demands of an emerging multipolar world order.'
David Lewis, London School of Economics and Political Science

'Thinking about Development is a clear and concise introduction to the idea of development from one of the most established scholars in the field. Looking at past and present Hettne forces us to think about possible future scenarios. This is essential reading for those new to development thinking and practice as well as a great refresher for those who feel disconnected from the bigger picture that global development represents.'
Jelke Boesten, University of Leeds

'Bjorne Hettne's timely and compelling book puts development into a much needed historical perspective with a forceful and convincing interpretation of development in the past and in today's global era. A must read for all development scholars and practitioners who take seriously the need to bring the insights of development studies to what Hettne rightly argues is required today - new global social theory.'
Wendy Harcourt Editor of Development


Publication Date: 27 August 2009
160 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848132474
eBook ePub: 9781848137882
eBook PDF: 9781848132481
eBook Kindle: 9781780327273
Library Edition: 9781848132467

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