World Sociology

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Affluence and destitution 

World sociology is concerned with explaining the relationship between different countries and people of the world and in particular the economic and social differences between them. World sociologists aim to explain why the nations of the world exist in the hierarchy of affluence which ranges from utter destitution to immense wealth (HARRIS) For example in 1997 the richest fifth of the worlds population enjoyed an income 78 times as great as the poorest. Most of this wealth is concentrated in the industrialised world- North America, Japan. 

Measuring development 1945-80

This period saw the dominance of two overlapping approaches to development especially with regard to how western governments, multilateral agencies and non-governmental organisations managed assistance in the developing world:

  • Devlopment as economic wellbeing
  • Development as social wellbeing 

Developing countries in contrast with the developed world, are likely to have the following features:

  • A colonial past
  • Economies based on agriculture (Especially the export of cash and crops) abd the extraction of raw materials, rather than the manufacturing industry
  • Low income growth for example a large proportion of income from exports is likely to be used to service foreign debt.
  • Vast inequalities in ownership of access to land
  • Large sections of the population unemployed or underemployed
  • A young and fertile population that is growing rapidly
  • High rates of child malnutrition
  • Low life expectancy
  • High rates of infant mortality
  • Patriarchal forms of inequality

Development and social wellbeing

It is argued that the measurement of development should focus on social rather than economic indicators of development. As a result many charitable agencies have focused on the concept of 'basic needs'. It is recognised that the poor need to be lifted out of subsistence poverty. It is argued that the developing world need to experience social wellbeing for example the right to be healthy and able to resist disease. The united nations constructed the Human Development Index which aims to measure aspects of human


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