Review from ROAPE Volume 14 Number 39
Sociology of Development (Foster-Carter)

The Sociology of Development by Aidan Foster-Carter
Vol.14 No.39 (Summer 1987), pp112-113
Any attempt at producing an introductory text to a discipline runs four major risks: a) inadequate treatment of the subject matter; b) over-generalisation; c) failure to develop (or present) the ‘right’ theoretical perspective; d) finally, relating to the last point, a non-thematic presentation. With regard to the first point Foster-Carter has succeeded in producing a fine and easily read introductory text to a discipline that is usually shrouded in technical jargon that renders discussion of the sociology of development one grand soliloquy. After an introductory chapter consisting of definitions and a descriptive taxonomy of underdeveloped societies, Chapter Two deals with theoretical issues. Despite brief analyses of Warren's Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism and Barrington-Moore's ‘routes to the modern world’ , the reader is left with the impression that sociological theories of development are either of the modernisation or dependency varieties. In succeeding chapters meticulous attempts are made to verify the relevance of both perspectives with regard to such issues as: industrialisation, urbanisation, rural development, demographic change, health., education, and women and development. For example, in Chapter Three, entitled ‘Industrialisation’ , we are told that ‘the "stagnationist" thesis of dependency theory - i.e. Frank's extreme view, that no further progress is possible anywhere in the Third World - has been definitely disproved by the experience of the NICs (New Industrialising Countries)’ . (p 32) In the discussion on the chapter on health a similar verificatory conclusion is arrived at, except that this time it assumes the form of a balance sheet: