Normal Professionalism, New Paradigms and Development

  • Robert Chambers


In 1985 the morbid preoccupations of development studies looked more than ever justified. There had been some big gains, especially in health and education; but the scale and awfulness of deprivation among the poorer people on the planet, and especially the rural poor in the Third World, remained an outrage. As more countries, and perhaps more people than ever before in recent history, were trapped in downward drifts, development studies, theories and practice were caught off their guard. The rate of obsolescence of fashions and ideas had accelerated. Some passed so fast that, as with the unsuccessful mountaineers on Rum Doodle (Bowman, 1956), high altitude deterioration set in before acclimatisation was complete: prescriptions and policies were abandoned before they had time to work, or to adapt and adjust and improve in the light of mistakes and experience. We seemed never to get there, or get there in time. We were always late, and always out-of-date. But against the gloom and frenetic rise and fall of fashions, could be set one steady trend which augured well in the long term: the gradual emergence of a new set of ideas about the theory and practice of development, especially, but not only, in rural development. These were cohering into a new pattern. They generated new agendas for research and action, and demanded and supported a new professionalism.


Development Profession Rural Development Poor People Rural Poor Common Property Resource 
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© Robert Chambers 1987

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  • Robert Chambers

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