Sociology ETDs

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Since World War II, participatory development (PD), part of the alternative development movement, has evolved from a fringe approach to meeting basic human needs, to a globally recognized paradigm that is informing the strategic decisions regarding community and international development by governments and multi-lateral and indigenous NGOs, as well as management practices in the private sector. This is a study of 1) the evolution of this phenomenon since the 1940s in the context of historical events and dominant theories that inform most development (modernization-globalization and dependency-world-system), and 2) PD itself, including its basic features, methods, case examples, and roots in academic schools, related social movements, and theoretical and philosophical traditions. In the course of the analysis, developmental concepts related to PD are explored and defined, including: community, development, community development, capacity-building, project, decentralization, civil society, empowerment, self-reliance, and sustainable development. There are two important contributions to the field of development that this dissertation study makes. First, by explaining PD and its related concepts, an alternative-participatory development model is constructed that shows their inter-relationships within a social system. And second, a foundation is established to build PD theory by way of relating clear explanations of PD — its essential components and related concepts — to broad social theories that can reveal in greater scope consequences of PD in society.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Coughlin, Richard

Second Committee Member

Tiano, Susan

Third Committee Member

Stringer, Ernie


Economic development projects--Citizen participation, Rural development projects--Citizen participation, Community development--Citizen participation



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