After a lovely 10 day break the lectures for my semester two modules began this week. I was very much looking forward to the Space, Place and Contemporary Culture module as the content sounded very interesting and it is run by a lecturer who I know to be very good from previous modules. But I was a little pessimistic about starting my other module called Global Poverty and Development. This was because I had never come across the lecturer before, the readings looked as if they might be a little tough to understand and I only chose the module out of a process of elimination (I wasn’t particularly fussed on doing the other ones). However, having been to the first lecture earlier on today I have had a complete change of mind as I was surprised to find that it was actually very enjoyable. There was one particular bit which I found to be very interesting which I am going to tell you about in the following lines.
Today’s lecture discussed the definition of development. Our common sense understanding of development is that it is essentially economic growth i.e. the developed countries are those with wealth whilst the under-developed countries are those with a large amount of poverty. Furthermore, the goods that we buy with our wealth is another underlying value of this common sense definition of development. For example, the residents of a wealthy country can buy products for convenience. Here is where the fridge comes into it… fridges are convenient because they keep food cold meaning you don’t have to take a trip to the shop every day to buy fresh food (pretty self-explanatory). But the interesting point is this- development isn’t always a positive thing because in having a fridge and not having to go out to the market every day to buy fresh food, individuals have perhaps lost a circle of acquaintances with whom they’d engage with when visiting the market. This loss of social engagement may contribute to a feeling of loneliness. Likewise, people in wealthy countries buy mobile phones for the ease of keeping in contact with others who are distant in time and space. But having smart phones causes communication to move from face-to-face interactions to online interactions which again can create feelings of isolation. I thought this was a very interesting point to make. But this was only the beginning, there are still several more lectures devoted to discussing what development actually means and the assessment involves writing a 2,500 word essay on the meaning of development, so I have feeling there is a lot more to it than what has already been said!
But this is largely what sociology is all about, uncovering the definitions of social settings and interactions which move beyond our common sense understandings. That’s why I find much of what we learn so fascinating. We get taught so many things that just make you stop and think about the world we live in and makes you question why we take certain things for granted