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Africa and the Development Narratives: Occurrences, History and Theories

Chapter
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 71)

Abstract

The central question informing this work on theorizing development problems in Africa is: Why are some nations rich and others poor? Traditional Eurocentric views have located the answers to this question within the context of the perceived dynamic European, or more broadly, occidental culture that refused to be fettered by tradition and religion, which have been considered to exercise a powerful restraint on human initiative. It has been shown in Weber’s work, and the perspective of the modernization theorists, for example, that the Industrial Revolution and other fruits of scientific inquiry could only have happened in the West and not among peoples that allowed themselves to be hindered by respect for traditions and hierarchies. Then, again, the whole new culture of work organization and ethics that followed the new developmental era only served to entrench the lead of the West. Thus it came to be understood that the possession of Western values and attributes was necessarily a developmental prerequisite and that where these values were lacking, society’s progress was bound to be retarded. An important challenge to this Eurocentric view was the concept of a world system which is most prominent in the work of Immanuel Wallerstein, who put forward the notion of an international economic system fashioned to ensure the perpetuation of the advantages of the dominant economic powers of the capitalist industrial Western democracies. In this sense, the current chapter shows that the viewpoint on Eurocentric high culture informing development, and low culture negating it, has a long history which culminated in modernization theory. This is a viewpoint that drew the ire of Immanuel Wallerstein and Andrew Gunder Frank in the ‘World System’ and ‘Development of Underdevelopment.’ In as much as modernization theories are value laden, the current chapter drew inspiration from both historical and causal path analysis to show how the assimilation of cultural traits from Africans’ experience of colonialism, imperialism and neocolonialism tends to encourage underdevelopment and the perpetuation of inequality between societies. Invoking the Marxist principles of praxis on the way forward, the chapter highlights perspectives on the path to genuine development coterminous with principles of genuine decolonization as the major panacea for African development problems.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of LagosLagosNigeria

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