The 19th and early 20th century founders of social science were deeply involved in analyzing the social, political, and economic changes that they observed in their own societies. The major theoretical perspectives about transformative changes date from this formative period. Despite the continuing currency of these early perspectives, the focused study of development dates from the post World War II era. From this period, we have gone through two and have entered a third "climate of opinion." Each climate of opinion contains a "circle of discourse" that connects what is perceived to be happening in the world to how theorists analyze social, political, and economic changes. The task of the course is to recognize the sociology of global and historical theorizing as an essential component of trying to understand the world in which we live.
We will examine both a changing world and changing views of the world in each of the three periods. In the first period immediately following World War II, a period in which the cold war developed, a number of sociologists and economists began systematically to investigate Third World societies--societies outside the capitalist and communists worlds. These observers argued for a theory of inevitable endogenous change toward capitalist development and political democracy; this theory became known as modernization theory.
In the 1960s, with the outbreak of the Vietnam war and of many mass movements, social theorists turned towards Marxian analysis and historical, comparative perspectives in order to decipher the changing world as then perceived. In this period, development theorists began passionately to argue for critical, trans-societal views of global change. This line of theorizing encompasses both world systems theory and theories of dependent development.
In the last decades, first with the rapprochement of the communist and capitalist worlds and then with the collapse of communism as a state system and Marxism as a viable political ideology, the sociology of development has begun to take another decisive shift. Recently, theorists are trying to combine views of global market processes with more institutional and organizational views of local and regional societies.
This first half of the course emphasizes the formative period in which the major paradigms of analysis were first formulated and the first two post-war circles of discourse. Then, in the second half of the course, we concentrate on the current circle of discourse.