ABSTRACT

Johnston’s audience knew exactly what these encouraging scenes meant. He was, after all, talking about the ‘cause and support of our prosperity.’ In contrast, as Michael Cowen and Robert Shenton point out in the first chapter of this volume, open almost any contemporary development text and all is confusion. Both the meaning and the purpose of development look rather like the Lower Shire in 1892; at best ‘marshy,’ more often ‘practically chaos.’ And yet, as an arena of study and practice, one of the basic impulses of those who write development is a desire to define, categorize and bring order to a heterogeneous and constantly multiplying field of meaning. In a recent spate of development dictionaries we sense an urgent, even desperate, attempt to stabilize development and bring order out of ambiguity (Eatwell et al. 1989; Welsh and Butorin 1990; Fry and Martin 1991; Sachs 1992; Hadjor 1993). These dictionaries merely confirm that development is a most elusive concept. Perhaps, as Sachs (1992:1-5) suggests, it

ought to be banned. But first it would be necessary to say what exactly should be banished. Thus, in the very call for banishment, Sachs implicitly suggests that it is possible to arrive at an unequivocal definition.