Introduction: The Study of Socio-economic Development

  • T. Scarlett Epstein


The problem of ‘under-developed countries’ still looms large on the international horizon. The various armed conflicts, which have flared up in recent years in the poorest regions of the world, bear witness to this. The changing terminology applied to the poorest parts of our globe illustrates the change in approach by the advanced countries to their poverty-stricken neighbours. In colonial times and right up to the Second World War, there was talk of ‘backward regions’ which at once implied a paternalistic approach and a somewhat moral condemnation. But the emergence of a number of new nations in the post-war period led, in the first flush of self-confidence provided by independence, to strong objections to the stigma of backwardness. They then came to be referred to as ‘under-developed areas’. In this context Myrdal remarks perceptively that ‘the tendency to think and act in a diplomatic manner when dealing with the problem of the under-developed countries has, in the new era of independence, become a new version of the “white man’s burden”…. The common agreement to change over to various euphemistic expressions for the term “under-developed countries” is an indication of this….


Moral Condemnation Anthropological Study Sodal Variable Barter Economy Sodal Relation 
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© T. Scarlett Epstein 1973

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  • T. Scarlett Epstein

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