The term ‘development’, in a general sense, refers to the act or process of growing (or causing something to grow), or become larger, more advanced, or more complex over a over a period of time. The term is used across many a fields of knowledge and scientific inquiry, and therefore deployed in ways that are not always fully congruous.

Consider, for example, the specialized discourses and diverging assumptions of ‘advancement’, ‘progress’ and ‘good’ that are invoked by when pairing the term ‘development’ with different adjectives. Discourses of ‘economic development’ focus on processes of societal reform characterized by heightened economic and industrial productivity, technological advancement, greater efficiency of resource consumption, economic complexity. Many philosophers and theorists of ‘social development’ study the ‘evolution’ of human societies at they organize themselves according to increasingly complex forms of governance and industry, from nomadic hunting and gathering societies, to rural agrarian, to urbanize communities, to commercial, industrial and finally post-industrial forms of production and wealth generation. The concept of ‘human development’ focuses on deeper comprehension of how human use of natural resources affects our individual and social enjoyment of improved quality of life. . And drawing from both of the previous two terms is the concept of ‘international development’.

To make matters more challenging for those studying development, the term may refer to any of a number of distinct but inter-related aspects of theory and practice: from a set of particular policies, programs and actions aimed at effecting some desired form of change, to human and environmental ramifications thereof.

The writings contained in these pages evaluate the concept of development as a meta-phenomenon: an amalgamated phenomenological construct, the totality of which is something fundamentally distinct from the assembly of constituent parts. My particular focus is on understandings of development that shape the ‘international development paradigm‘—a grand milieu of institutions, policies, projects, and agents. My use of the term ‘development’ refers to any transformative action or actions and their associated outcomes, and I seek to understand (and to clarify) how such are governed by divergent (and sometimes contradictory) factors—from the motives that drive social change to the context and conditions within which such change to occurs.