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Alternation between Development Modes

Reinforcing dynamic conception through functional classification

Alternation between Development Modes
Implication dilemmas
Practical possibilities
Feasible possibility
Role of classification schemes
Anti-development biases in classification design
Design considerations: Classification as a political act
Design considerations: Functional pattern
Design considerations: Functional periodicity
Design considerations: Distinguishing functions
Design considerations: Concerns of the international community
Design considerations: Recovering functional emphasis
Implementation: Initial phase
Comment: Flexible open-ended approach
Comment: Dynamic relationship between functions
Comment: Non-linear and oscillatory functional relationships
Comment: Implication of modes of comprehension
Comment: Need for a development 'container'
Comment: Intrinsic uncertainty and paradox
Comment: Individual and social development as mutual models

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Prepared for a meeting of Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project (Integrative Group B) of the United Nations University's Human and Social Development Programme (Athens, 19-24 April 1982). This work pre-figured the current operational version that orients subject access to databases of international organizations, world problems, and strategies. The topic was also explored under the title Developing through Complexity using Policy Alternation (1982), also distributed as References


1. Academic research has not demonstrated that it has much to offer beyond descriptive analysis in response to the current social crisis. Innovation where it has occurred has come from other sectors of society, as in the case of the alternatives movement.

2. Integration initiatives at this time are themselves fragmented and usually mutually hostile in practice. There is considerable confusion about the nature of integration and it is difficult to imagine that integrative processes favoured by one group would be considered to be of much significance by another.

3. In such a context it is appropriate to re-examine some of the options open to a group wishing to further any "integrative" response to the world problematique, in order to avoid concentrating resources on sub-optimum strategies.

4. It is especially important to note the probable destination of any products engendered by such group activity in considering whether the outcome cannot be better designed.

5. This document therefore first considers various constraints on useful integrative initiatives, especially in the light of some of the "nasty" questions which govern the sympathy with which initiatives are perceived.

6. As a result, it is concluded that a viable action at this time is to reformulate the way in which all information relevant to problem response can be ordered to emphasize a variety of integrative dimensions. This is to be contrasted with current information tools which reinforce fragmented, non-developmental initiatives.

7. This approach is carried out with a view to immediate implementation by re-ordering information on the 10,000 internationally-active organizations, the 2,600 world problems with which they are concerned, as well as on 10,000 other elements including multilateral treaties, human values, intellectual disciplines and resources. This information reflects to a great extent the range of forces which are believed, by some, to be of significance at- this time.

8. It is believed that generation of an information instrument of this kind can facilitate the perception of new patterns of relationship between problems and the development of new patterns of interaction between organizations, whether at the global or at the local level. It is particularly relevant to the rapid emergence of the data bank society, which is supposedly equipping itself to come to grips with the world problematique.

9. The design of this new ordering of information is carried out to reflect concerns formulated within GPID. Indeed the ability to embody such concerns is considered an indicator of the relevance of this approach to human and social development.

10. The thrust of this initiative is essentially practical. The failure of fragmented responses to the global problematique over the past decades suggests that it is time to explore high-risk strategies using a wider range of available resources. The narrow view, however well-legitimated by academic and institutional establishments does not appear to be able to generate an adequate response, however capable it is of explaining the reasons for its failure.

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