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Paths to Development

Paths to Development is a series wherein we explore an understanding of how a society can politically, economically, and/or socially develop, drawing from different theorists, schools, and ideologies.


Rostow believed in a very rigid method of economic development, claiming a series of distinct stages in the path to development. Known as Rostow’s stages of economic growth, the model includes: traditional society, the pre-conditions of take-off, take-off (wherein there is major technological appliance and industrialisation within one or few industries), drive to technological maturity, and high mass consumption.

The model focuses on the necessity of technological and industrial shifts to achieve large economic growth, ultimately sustained and increased by high demand and specialisation in certain industries in the global market. This model would be classified as being part of the structuralist school in development, which emphasises that certain societal structures are needed to achieve greater economic success, in a very universal and teleological (focus on end results) manner. The theory has been criticised as being overly western-centric, it largely being based off of how Europe and North America achieved economic growth, ignoring factors that differentiate them from the rest of the world. Its assumption of universality in development, and ignoring the social and political issues which arise from mass industrialisation and consumerism.

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