Global Development

What is global development? Why is global development important? What are some examples of global development? What even is Global Development studies?

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    If you’re searching for answers to questions like these then look no further. This article and the articles that’ll follow will take you through all things global development related. Though this work is aimed to help those studying A-level Sociology in the UK, the exploration of development theories will prepare anyone who may be taking an introductory university module in global development, irrespective of discipline.

    This article is a brief overview of the basics ideas in global development, such as:

    • The definition of global development
    • Global development in sociology
    • Topics within global development, such as understanding development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), theories of development, economics and global organisation, globalisation, the developing world, and so on.

    Global development: definition

    First, let us provide a global development definition:

    Global development is a broad concept relating to different levels of ‘progress’ in a country's economic, social, political and technological conditions.

    Global Development, City at night, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Global development studies a country's progress using various levels of measurement.

    What does global development in sociology study?

    As a field of study, global development in sociology is a critical look at how development has unfolded across the world throughout the 20th century and the conditions that affect global development trajectories today.

    It can help answer questions such as:

    • How can there be so much wealth and at the same time so much poverty and needless suffering?
    • How is it that countries like China, the UAE, South Korea, and Singapore have been able to rapidly develop over the 20th century, whilst most of sub-Saharan Africa remains some of the poorest countries in the world?
    • How and what has the world done to increase levels of development and help the neediest nations and populations? Is it even possible for us to manage, control and affect the myriad of global issues we face today?

    From a humanitarian point of view, understanding questions like these are vital for our everyday life. The more interconnected our world becomes, the more we should ask ourselves why there is such vast inequality, depending on where one is born.

    Just think about the global manufacturing processes and their implications behind your favourite foods and clothing brands! Something as simple as being born in certain places can dictate whether you benefit from such processes from afar or contribute to them (e.g., working in poor conditions in a developing country).

    Now we know what global development entails as a field of study, we will go through the key points of each topic we will be learning about in Global Development. You will find detailed, separate articles on each subtopic on StudySmarter.

    Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

    Understanding global development: sustainable development global goals and beyond

    Understanding global development, including how sustainable development global goals work isn't so straightforward. There are many competing definitions, measurements and ways of theorising just what development should mean and why global inequalities persist. Therefore, in this section we will look into two areas:

    1. Development: meaning, measurements, indicators & classifications

    • An explanation of why development is hard to define.

    • A description and critical analysis of the different ways development is measured, and the indicators used for a given measurement.

    Development can be measured by either (1) economic, (2) social, (3) socioeconomic, or (4) sustainable indicators.

    Let’s take a look at Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the most visible being the UN’s 2015 version. Here, there are 17 goals, or Indicators, that are used to measure both national and global levels of sustainable development. They include, amongst others:

    • No poverty
    • Zero hunger
    • Good health and wellbeing
    • Quality education, etc.
    • How countries and global regions have been classified in terms of ‘development stages’ and the reasons why some of the terminologies are problematic or outdated.

    Brandt’s North/South Divide – the outdated idea that: developed, industrialized nations are overwhelmingly in the Northern Hemisphere whilst developing countries are mainly in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Why is this outdated? Well, for example, China, India and the UAE are all considered 'unindustrialised' and 'underdeveloped' according to Brandt, even though they are some of the largest economies in the world.

    2. Theories of development & global inequalities

    • A deep dive into the main theoretical paradigms that have affected global development strategies. Specifically, an analysis of Modernisation Theory and Neoliberalism

    • An analysis of the major ‘critical’ development theories. Specifically, we will look at Dependency Theory and World Systems Theory

    • Through the lenses of both the above theoretical branches, we will link these to how they explain the levels of global inequalities present between countries.

    • A brief introduction to post-development and environmental theories as a response to, and movement beyond, the paradigm that the above theories exist within. i.e. is economic development and 'growth' really the way to track human progress?

    Globalisation and global development

    Unsurprisingly, globalisation has been one of the primary, if not the primary, driving force behind modern global development.

    Globalisation refers to the interconnectedness of the world’s economies and cultures brought about by new technologies and free trade.

    In 'Globalisation in Sociology' and 'Global Organisations', we will be looking at:

    • The four main factors that have contributed to globalisation - the emergence of technology, political transformations, economic developments, and cultural factors

    • The different types of globalisation - economic, cultural, and political globalisation - and how they have changed relationships between and within societies
    • The three schools of thought on globalisation - the positivists, the negativists, and the transformationalists

    • The advantages brought forth by globalisation, including economic growth, a wide range of opportunities, and increased international respect and understanding

    • The drawbacks of globalisation, such as worsening global inequalities in less developed nations and the erosion of local cultures

    Economics and global sustainable development: global organisations

    How is economics linked with global sustainable development?

    Within this topic, we will critically look at:

    • The role of Transnational Corporations (TNCs) in global development strategies.

      1. How Neoliberal and Dependency theories evaluate the role of TNCs

    • The impact different International Organisations (IGOs) have had on global development.

      1. In particular, a look at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank and their Structural Adjustment Programme (SAPs).

    Global Development, Flags outside UN building, StudySmarterFig. 2 - We will study the role of international organisations, such as the UN, in development.

    Global development: the developing world

    Here, we will look at how development relates to the factors:

    1. Aid

      Aid is a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another.

    2. Global Trade

      Trade refers to the exchange (importing and exporting) of goods and services between countries.

    3. Industrialisation

      Industrialisation is a historical process of social and economic change whereby a country's economy comes to be based primarily on the manufacturing of goods.

    4. Urbanisation

      This refers to an increasing shift in the number of people living in urban areas and a decrease in those living in rural areas.

    5. The environment

      The Oxford Dictionary defines environment as "the natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity".

    6. War and conflict

      Conflict is a disagreement between two parties where at least one considers the other a threat. On the other hand, war is where conflict is widespread, intentional, and declared.

    Again, all these concepts are critically evaluated through different theoretical perspectives. Primarily, Modernisation Theory / Neoliberalism vs. Dependency Theory.

    Aspects of global development

    We will be doing a deep dive into the following aspects of development:

    1. Employment

    2. Education

    3. Health

    4. Demographic change

    5. Gender

    Specifically, we will describe the state of these phenomena in the world, the factors that influence them, and finally, theoretical perspectives on their role in development.

    1. Within employment, we will look at the differences between levels in formal and informal-sector work, and the implications of such.

    2. Within education, how modernisation theory vs. dependency theory equates this aspect to development.

    3. Within gender, we will look at a range of factors that highlight how women face a series of disadvantages compared to men. Also, how globalisation has influenced gendered patterns of work.

    A centre for global development?

    Should you take this as the centre point for your global development studies?

    Whilst this module is by no means an exhaustive resource bank, particularly if you are currently reading this now in university, I would still highly recommend you glance at each article. In many ways, this is the foundational core, or centre, for understanding global development.

    If you are currently revising for your A-levels, then you’ll find this specifically tailored to your specification. At the very least, the list of examples provided will be highly useful and topical.

    Happy reading!

    Global Development - Key takeaways

    • Global development is a broad concept relating to different levels of ‘progress’ in a country's economic, social, political and technological conditions.
    • There are 5 Topics within Global Development that we will focus on: (1) Understanding Development, (2) Globalisation, (3) the role of Global Organisations, (4) Important factors for the Developing World, and (5) Aspects of Development.
    • Understanding development includes understanding the different Measurements, Indicators, Classifications and Theories that shape how different groups view global development.
    • Global organisations are crucial to understanding the strategies in which developing countries can develop within a globalised and interconnected world.
    • Both the factors and aspects of development are critical for depicting the realities of global development and the effects of development on a variety of issues.
    Global Development Global Development
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Global Development

    What are some examples of global development?

    This depends on what you're looking at within global development. So, for example, in terms of economic development, this may be differences in GDP / GNI per capita between countries. In terms of social development, examples may include rates of Health Indicators (life expectancy, Infant mortality rates etc.), Education Indicators (average years spent in education, levels of literacy etc.) or Gender inequalities, and how these differ on a global scale. etc.  

    What is global development?

    Put simply, global development is a broad concept relating to different levels of ‘progress’ in a countries economic, social, political and technological conditions. However, defining global development is complicated. It is affected by how we measure aspects of global development and is altered by the focuses of different organisations/institutions.

    Why is global development important? 

    Global development is important as it affects the lives of millions, if not billions of people around the globe. Therefore, understanding and being critical of the actions taken by Governments, NGOs and International Agencies in the name of 'development' are essential if we are to help mould a more equal and equitable way of living for all. 

    What is global development studies? 

    As a field of study, global development is a critical look at the way in which, and why, global development has unfolded throughout the 20th Century and the conditions that affect global development trajectories today.

    What is the difference between international development and global development?

    In short, there is no difference between international development and global development. Both are synonyms for the same field of study - a critical look at how global/international development has unfolded throughout the 20th century and the conditions that affect global/international development trajectories today.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Fill in the blank...  'Development' and 'Improvement' are  ___  terms. 

    A criticism of qualitative indicators are that they are much ___ to ___ , ___ and ___ than quantitative indicators

    The IMF does not freely give out loans to developing and struggling countries. Instead, the IMF provides ______ loans on the basis that they adopt                              . These are known as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). 

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