The idea that people should be able to live free from poverty and that every person is entitled to a life in harmony with nature is at the heart of development. It includes the goal of ensuring that people have access to education, medical treatment, jobs and opportunities to develop their personality.
Development is a dynamic process that takes place at the physical, vital and mental levels of human existence. The pace of development varies from society to society, but generally speaking, it moves through well-defined stages. The first is the physical stage in which societies are preoccupied with bare survival and subsistence. In this phase of development, traditional values and customs rule the roost and there is little innovation. Land is the main asset and wealth is measured by the size of one’s land holdings. Feudal lords and military chiefs control the political power structure.
In the vital stage, societal advancements are made by introducing innovations. The conservative elements of society resist these changes at the beginning, but eventually they become accepted and imitated. The next stage is the mental stage in which the ability to organize resources becomes the primary driver of a country’s advancement. This stage is marked by the emergence of large business corporations that make more money than the total earnings of some small countries. A unified global network for sea and air travel, telecommunications and weather reporting are also characteristic of this stage.
Development is a topic that is studied by a number of academic disciplines, including philosophy, sociology, psychology and economics. Many theories of development have emerged through the years. There are differences in the underlying assumptions of each theory. Some theorists believe that a person’s characteristics and experiences are set in stone at birth, while others suggest that these traits and experiences can be changed throughout one’s lifetime. Some theorists endorse lifespan or ecological systems approaches that emphasize the importance of developing people within their environment.