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Democracy And Development Essay

1754 words - 7 pages

Most of rich countries in the world are democracies and most of the poorest are not, or have not been for most of their histories. Recently however, this reality seems to be changing. The last quarter-century has seen a wave of democratization, the most recent examples being the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011. Many of these new democracies have adopted new constitutions, entrenched bills of rights and made provisions for constitutional judicial review. The exact relationship between political regimes and development is highly contested, both theoretically and empirically. It is clear that there is a correlation between democracy and development but not necessarily causation, but quite the opposite. In order to critically examine the relationship between development and democracy this essay will firstly specify what is meant by democracy and then define the concept of development. Finally, will argue that democracy is often an essential prerequisite to development at least in its early stages but most importantly, the success of a development program relies not on the regime type but on the character of the states and its association with politics.

The term democracy does not have a unanimous definition; however it could be understood in a more substantive manner as a political regime that protects the freedom of individuals and express the will of the majority through free and fair elections, protection of minority rights and respect for basic human rights. Notwithstanding this general conception of democracy, there is no consensus on precisely how to define or measure democracy. Scholars approach democracy in various ways. An example of a much used minimalist definition is that of Joseph Schumpeter’s. He describes the system as “arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote. With these diverging views it seems like people generally conceptualise what democracy is suppose to represent, but rarely agree on how best to define it in detail.
In the 1950s development was very much related to the modernization of traditional societies in previous European colonies through the modernization theory. Modernization theorist held, first, that developed societies were distinguished by their economic, social, cultural and political modernity, which constracted sharpely with the traditional values of the underdeveloped, developing, backward Third World. Development was thus, clearly about the modernazation of the traditional theories, and economic development clearly revolved around industrialisation and the transfer of an under employed rural labour force to more productibe occupations in the urban industrial sector. But this simplistic definition has evolved and just like democracy, its definition is not unanimous. For the purpose of this essay development will be understood as a “transformation of society, that goes beyond economic growth to include...

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