Social Development Essay

This paper is an attempt to discuss the Speed of Social development and growth increases as awareness of opportunities spreads, aspiration increases, conscious knowledge of organization grows, attitudes become progressive, and infrastructure is put in place. The paper begins by defining social development and other terminologies and then discusses the statement. The conclusion is drawn in line with whether the statement is correct.

Social development is defined in its broadest social terms as an upward directional movement of society from lesser to greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, choice, mastery, enjoyment and accomplishment. Development of individuals and societies results in increasing freedom of choice and increasing capacity to fulfill its choices by its own capacity and initiative. International Commission on Peace and Food (1994:163) explains that development is a process of social change, not merely a set of policies and programs instituted for some specific results.

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This process has been going on since the dawn of history. Development is governed by many factors that influence the results of developmental efforts. There must be a motive that drives the social change and essential preconditions for that change to occur. The motive must be powerful enough to overcome obstructions that impede that change from occurring. Development also needs resources such as capital and technology and the availability of supporting infrastructures.

Development is the result of society’s capacity to organize human energies and productive resources in order to meet the challenges and opportunities that life presents society with all the times. Society passes through well-defined stages in the course of its development. They are nomadic hunting and gathering, rural agrarian, urban, commercial, industrial and post-industrial societies. Pioneers introduce new ideas, practices and habits which are resisted in the beginning by the conservative element in society. At a later stage the innovations are accepted, imitated, organized and made use of by other members of the community.

The pace and scope for development varies according to the stage that society is in during the developmental process. The three main stages are physical, vital and mental and all these three have their own unique characteristics. Infrastructure implies the basic physical systems of a country’s or community’s population, including roads, utilities, water, and sewage. These systems are considered essential for enabling productivity in the economy. Developing infrastructure often requires large initial investment, but the economies of scale tend to be significant.

Organization is the human capacity to harness all available information, knowledge, resources, technology, infrastructure and human skills to exploit new opportunities and to face challenges and hurdles that come in the way of progress. Development comes through improvements in the human capacity for organisation. In other words, development comes through emergence of better organisations that enhance society’s capacity to make use of opportunities and face challenges. The development of organisations may come through the formulation of new laws and regulations or through new systems.

Each new progress that society achieves comes with a corresponding new organisation that emerges on the scene. Each new developmental advance that society makes is accompanied by new or more suitable organisations that facilitate that advance. On many occasions the existing inadequate organisation is forced to change itself to be in tune with the new development. The process of development occurs by the creation of higher levels of organisation in society capable of accomplishing greater acts with more efficient use of social energies.

Society develops by organising all the knowledge, human energies and material resources at its disposal to fulfill its aspirations. Energy provides the fuel and awareness helps set the direction for social progress, but one other condition must be met to unleash the development process. The society must feel a strong aspiration or felt need for achievement at a higher level that spurs it to the effort required to convert a perceived possibility into a material reality.

Social development is an expression of social will seeking to elevate the performance of the collective. As the society becomes more conscious of the external environment and its own internal potentials, its aspiration and will for progress increase. The greater its knowledge of its potentials, the greater the aspiration. Surplus social energy collects as potential beneath the surface, accumulating until it acquires sufficient force to burst out in new activities.

It expresses initially in society as increasing thought and discussion about new possibilities, an urge for innovation and improvement, and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. But the mobilisation of this energy for action depends on fulfillment of a second essential condition for development, awareness of new development opportunities and challenges. Societies that are fully consumed by the struggle for survival have little time or inclination to direct their attention outward to observe what other societies are accomplishing or forward to envision new possibilities.

When life reaches a certain level of stable comfort, societies become increasingly interested in and aware of what is going on in the world around them. This awareness may also be thrust on a society by the unwanted intrusion of an external influence. The Role of Knowledge in Social Organisation brings into the prominence the essential role of knowledge in the development process. Knowledge is the central characteristic of the mental attribute of human consciousness which has assumed an increasingly dominant role during the last few hundreds years.

The development of philosophical thought and values expresses in the social life as changing concepts about the purpose of life, the role and nature of human beings, and the relationship between the individual and the collective. This abstract and exalted field of mental speculation appears far removed from practical considerations. Yet it has been the source of the revolutionary thoughts and values that have radically transformed the political and social structure of civilisation over the past five centuries by the establishment of democratic principles and forms of governance as a global standard, if not quite yet a global practice.

This movement can be traced from the revival of humanistic thought, spread of education and secular values during the Renaissance and the spiritual empowerment of the individual by the Reformation through the birth of modern science and affirmation of rationalistic ideals during the Enlightenment and the declaration of human values by the American and French Revolutions up to the collapse of colonial empires following World War II and the rapid spread of democratic forms of government in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa over the past two decades.

The tremendous release of individual energy and collective dynamism that accompanied the practical acceptance of these ideals has provided the impetus for momentous social accomplishments that until recently seemed inconceivable. Society develops by building up higher and higher levels of organisation. The establishment of each successive new layer of organisation occurs as an overlay on the foundations of the society’s previous achievements. These essential foundations are referred to as the infrastructure for the next stage of development.

The term infrastructure is commonly used to refer to the physical infrastructure of roads, ports, navigable rivers, railways and electric power that support economic activity. The meaning is extended to the term by including three other levels of infrastructure social, mental and psychological that is necessary for further developmental achievements. The social infrastructure consists of all the laws, systems, administrative, commercial, productive and financial organisations colleges, research institutes, banks, stock exchanges, and courts built up during previous stages of development that serve as a foundation for future progress.

The mental infrastructure includes the availability of information, the level of education and awareness in society, the technical knowledge and skills of the workforce. The psychological infrastructure consists of the collective social energy, aspirations, attitudes and values that make the society open to new ideas, responsive to opportunities, willing to change, dynamic and hard working all of which are essential characteristics for rising to higher levels of development.

Infrastructure is itself a level of organization supporting as a foundation further levels of organisation above it. The infrastructure of highways is a physical organisation of linked roads connecting major centers of population, production, trade and consumption making possible the organisation of commerce, industry and tourism. The educational infrastructure consists of a network of schools, colleges and training institutions covering different levels and specialised fields making possible the dissemination of acquired knowledge and skills together with research and experimentation.

The legal infrastructure includes an interdependent fabric of laws, law-makers, enforcement agencies, judicial authorities, penal institutions and legal practitioners that serve as an essential foundation for maintenance of peace, the organisation of civil society and commercial activity. The established fields of knowledge in society are similarly organised into specialised subjects, branches and levels upon which further advances of knowledge are founded.

Each successive level of development requires the establishment of an essential infrastructure to support it. This conception underscores the need for multiple levels and types of infrastructure for the successful development of any new activity in society. Merely building up the physical infrastructure, as the OPEC nations did in the 1970s and 1980s and the Germans have done in East Germany during the 1990s is not sufficient foundation for development to take place.

Both lacked the social systems, knowledge and attitudes needed to effectively utilise the physical infrastructure. Russia already possessed an elaborate physical infrastructure, a sophisticated manufacturing base and a highly educated population at the time the USSR dissolved, but it sorely lacked the social infrastructure of democratic, legal, administrative and commercial institutions needed to spur further development under a free market system. Russia also lacked the psychological infrastructure necessary for development under a market economy.

The aspirations and attitudes of the Russian people were polarised, some eager to abandon old ways in favor of a new system and others equally afraid, ardently clinging to the old and resisting such basic changes as the legalization of private property and mortgages. The results of any development initiative will depend on the strength and quality of the underlying infrastructure. Supplying missing infrastructures can have a strong energising effect in society. At the turn of the century, rural roads were laid to previously isolated villages in the French countryside, providing a powerful stimulus to the rural economy.

Almost overnight, farmers that had been feeding surplus grapes to their pigs because they had no way to market them beyond the local area were exporting grapes and wine to foreign countries. Roads had such a stimulating effect on French agriculture that people referred to them as “the first fertiliser to improve our crops”. The infrastructure of ports built up by India soon after Independence proved an invaluable asset when huge quantities of fertiliser needed to be imported during the Green Revolution. Without the infrastructure, the revolution in agriculture would have been severely hampered.

The provision of power to energy starved industrial areas can have a similar impact in many developing countries today. In conclusion, it can be said that the statement that Speed of development and growth increases as awareness of opportunities spreads, aspiration increases, conscious knowledge of organization grows, attitudes become progressive, and infrastructure is put in place is correct as development is equal to infrastructure coupled with organisation, conscious knowledge and social aspiration..


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