10 Important Aspects of “Political Development” as defined by Eminent Scholars

Lucian Pye in his work ‘Aspects of Political Development’ has very systematically explained the different ways in which political Development has been defined by various political scientists.

(1) Political Development as the Political Pre-requisite of Economic Development:

This view of political development seeks to conceptualise it in term of economic growth. Political development is regarded as “that state of the polity which might facilitate economic growth”. Paul A. Baran, Norman S. Buchanan, Howard S. Ellis, Benzamin Higgins, Albert Hirschman, Barbaran Ward and several other social scientists have advocated this view of Political Development.

Firstly, it is a negative view, because in practice we can study better the hindrances which a political system can pose to economic growth than the facilities that it can provide.

Secondly, since economic growths in different societies have been registered under different set of public policies, this approach to political development cannot offer an agreed and acceptable theoretical framework.

Thirdly, in several societies, political development has come at a more rapid pace than the pace of economic growth.

Finally, in most underdeveloped countries people clearly are concerned with far more than just material development, they are anxious about political development quite independent of effect on the rate of economic growth. Thus it is not a fully acceptable view of Political Development.

(2) Political Development as the Politics Typical of Industrial Societies:

This view of development is based on the assumption that industrial life produces a more or less common and generic type of political life which any society can seek to approximate whether it is in fact industrialised or not. Industrial societies set certain standards of political behaviour and performance that constitute the state of political development, as social scientists like Walt W. Rustow opine and represent the appropriate goals of development for all other systems.

This, view, as such, holds that political development involves; certain patterns of presumably “rational” and “responsible” governmental behaviour; an avoidance of reckless action; some sense of limitations on politics; an appreciation of the values of orderly administrative and legal procedures, an acknowledgement that politics is rightly a mechanism for solving problems and not an end in itself, a stress on welfare programmes, and finally an acceptance of some form of mass participation.

(3) Political Development as Political Modernisation:

Social scientists like James S. Coleman, Karl Deutsch, S.M. Lipset and some others regard political development as the typical or idealised politics of industrial societies and that political development is synonymous with political modernisation.

Just as advanced nations are pace-setters for others, likewise modernisation is the pace-setter for political development. Political development takes the form of westernisation in politics.

It is again a parochial view of development which cannot be operationalised because almost all political institutions of the world bear the influence of western institutions and consequently, it becomes difficult, on the basis of this view, to classify political system on the basis of the nature and levels of their political development.

(4) Political Development as the Operation of the Nation State:

This approach, as Pye observes, has been followed by K.H. Silver, Edward Shills and William McCord. This view holds that political development consists of the organisation of political life and the performance of political functions in accordance with the standards expected of a modern nation-state.

The emergence of nation-state has brought into existence a specific set of requirements, which together constitute political development. It involves the transformation of nation-state in theory into a nation state in reality-which requires the development of a capacity to maintain a certain level of public order, to mobilise resources for a specific range of collective enterprises and to make and effectively uphold international commitments.

The test of political development is, first, the establishment of a particular set of public institutions that constitute the necessary infrastructure of nation-state, and secondly, the controlled expression in political life of the phenomenon of nationalism. Political Development, in this view is: “The politics of nationalism within the context of state institutions”, or that “political development is nation-building.”

(5) Political Development as Administrative and Legal Development:

The fifth view of political development, as discussed by Lucian Pye, is the view which interprets political development as process of institution-building and citizenship development. This view has amongst its supporters such scholars as Max Weber and Joseph La Palombara.

This view associates political development, with the development of a legal order followed by an administrative order. In this view, administrative development is associated with the spread of rationality, the strengthening of secular, legal concepts and the elevation of technical and specialised knowledge in the direction of human affairs.

No one can deny that political development involves legal and administrative development; however, no one can equate the former with the latter.

(6) Political Development as Mass Mobilisation and Participation:

This view links political development with political awakening of the people. The bigger the mass mobilisation and participation in politics, the greater is the degree of political development of the political system.

This is again a narrow and even dangerous view of political development because it can lead to the acceptance of a political system characterised by many demonstrations, mass responses to elite manipulation, populist movements, etc., as a politically developed system.

(7) Political Development as the Building of Democracy:

This view places political development as synonymous with the establishment of democratic institutions and practices. Building of democracy is the process of political development. According to this view, development has meaning only in terms of the strengthening of some set of values. “It, thus, presents an ideological and value-laden view of political development. Development is fundamentally different from democracy and that the very attempt to introduce democracy can be a positive liability to development”.

(8) Political Development as Stability and Orderly Change:

This view seeks to define political development in terms of the ability of the political system to remain stable and possess the capacity for purposeful and orderly change.

A political system which can refrain from becoming a helpless victim of social and economic forces and which on the other hand regulates the process of social change by making it purposeful and orderly, is a politically developed system.

However, a major weakness of this approach is its failure to define the level of stability and capacity for orderly change that may be regarded as the standard for analysing political development.

(9) Political Development as Mobilisation and Power:

This view links political development with the capabilities of a political system, i.e., the ability of the political system to mobilise the resources, exercise power and to use the resources to the fullest advantage. Coleman, Powell and Talcott Parsons have analysed political development in terms of these variables.

The view involves the concept that political system can be evaluated in terms of the level or degree of absolute power which the system is able to mobilise. “It is a useful premise; however, it cannot be regarded as the standard for measuring political development. It fails to take into account the fact that some political systems deliberately avoid full mobilisation of resources and exercise of power.”

(10) Political Development as one Aspect of a Multi-Dimensional Process of Social Change:

This view of political development holds that all forms of development are related. Development is much the same as modernisation and it takes place within a historical context in which influences from outside the society impinge on the processes of social change just as changes in different aspects of a society-the economy, the polity and the social order-all impinge on one another.

This approach has been advocated by Max F. Millikan and Donald L.M. Blackmer. They advocate that political development is some how intimately associated with other aspects of social and economic change. This view merits attention, but it again fails to identify what really is the nature of political development which comes as part of the all-embracing process of social change.

Besides these ten different approaches to the conceptualisation of political development, there are other possible interpretations. As Lucian Pye holds, it can be taken to mean commonly a sense of national self-respect and dignity in international affairs or the view that political development should refer to a post-nationalism era when nation-state will no longer be the basic unit of political life.

All these views of political development highlight fully the difficulty in offering a definition of this concept. The way out lies in analysing the common characteristics of political development on the basis of all these views. This task has been successfully undertaken by Lucian Pye.

Submitted by : Professor Mala, Category : Knowledge