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The future of development
A radical manifesto

Gustavo Esteva, Salvatore J. Babones, Philipp Babcicky
Paperback, 192 pages, 214 x 138 mm
Other formats available
09 Oct 2013


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"This book is highly accessible, informative, and potentially inspiring ... The book approaches familiar debates on development – including population growth, food scarcity and environmental degradation – from a perspective that is both original and thought provoking."
Nitsan Chorev, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Brown University
“By radically challenging what they call the colonizing virulence of underdevelopment, the authors of The future of development provide a clarion call to arms, a radical manifesto, for unthinking the development enterprise.” Adam David Morton, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ), University of Nottingham
“Esteva, Babones and Babcicky provide a clarion call to think and act in the world without the frames of ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’. By problematising conceptual and statistical lenses that convert the world to a singular development enterprise, they re-open our minds and vision to social actions and values that defy a reductionist development paradigm. This is a timely and inspiring intervention.” Philip McMichael, Cornell University, Editor, Contesting Development: Critical Struggles for Social Change (2010)
“This concise book pursues critical alternatives to mainstream claims about development. The authors expose the façade of economic development, and reveal that cultural development is an exciting and important path for new research. The authors, in their public intellectual lives and here in their manifesto, show us how diversity can lead to unity, especially as they reveal the deeper problems with consumption. There are only a handful of books that can reach a diverse group of readers with such an important and exciting message. Yes, a truly remarkable book.” Pat Lauderdale, Arizona State University.

About This Book

On January 20, 1949 US President Harry S. Truman officially opened the era of development. On that day, over one half of the people of the world were defined as "underdeveloped" and they have stayed that way ever since. This book explains the origins of development and underdevelopment and shows how poorly we understand these two terms. It offers a new vision for development, demystifying the statistics that international organizations use to measure development and introducing the alternative concept of buen vivir: the state of living well. The authors argue that it is possible for everyone on the planet to live well, but only if we learn to live as communities rather than as individuals and to nurture our respective commons. Scholars and students of global development studies are well-aware that development is a difficult concept. This thought-provoking book offers them advice for the future of development studies and hope for the future of humankind.

Author Biography

Gustavo Esteva is a grassroots activist and prolific author. He works in collaboration with Universidad de la Tierra, in Mexico, and many organizations and networks around the world. Salvatore Babones teaches sociology and social policy at the University of Sydney. He has published widely on globalization, inequality, and quantitative methodology. Philipp Babcicky is a PhD student at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on environmental sustainability and the sociology of consumption.


The Birth of Development and Underdevelopment
Development Statistics and What They Tell Us
Buen Vivir: An Alternative to the Cult of Growth
There is Enough for Everyone
Reorganizing Society from the Bottom Up
The Reclamation of the Commons
Epilogue: A Role for Development Scholars and Practitioners.


Customers in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei must order from their local distributor

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