Increasingly, the study of the phenomenon of development straddles the traditional disciplinary divide. Students of economics, sociology, economic geography, economic history, international business and international relations are all required to address development issues as part of their curriculum of study. This makes a text that draws together all the various strands and ingredients of the development process in a single book of special value.
This textbook, by Adam Szirmai of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, succeeds in achieving this aim in a comprehensive and masterly fashion. All aspects of development are covered here - historic, economic, demographic, social, ecological, political and cultural. Students of development will find everything they require for an understanding of the subject matter.
The book is written in a lucid non-technical style and is attractively laid out. At the same time, there is an awful lot packed into the chapters to catch the interest of specialists. As an economist with an interest in development issues, I found the chapters on economic growth, economic development and structural transformation and industrial development especially absorbing.
All the key theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of the development process are surveyed.
The merits and demerits of different approaches are exhaustively discussed, with the author including his own views. Arguments are supported by up-to-date and comprehensive statistical data, which are considered and analysed in the accompanying text.
The author sees development as a dynamic process of social and economic transformation that has taken place in different ways and at different times in different regions of the world. There is no single model that can easily be replicated by countries seeking to catch up with the rest of the world. Equally, there are no “final answers” to all the questions thrown up about the development process.
More than in many other fields of study, there is controversy and debate. The task of the student is to become informed about the issues under debate and with the often-contradictory and ambiguous results of empirical work. Szirmai’s text is the best that I have read on this subject and should be extensively used as a core text on development courses in all universities.
Nigel Grimwade is principal lecturer in economics, London South Bank University.
The Dynamics of Socio-Economic Development: An Introduction. First edition
Author - Adam Szirmai
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Pages - 711
Price - £60.00 and £30.00
ISBN - 0 521 81763 3 and 52084 3