Dr Preston’s book, first published in 1982, presents a critical history of development studies since the Second World War, linking the recent, neo-Marxist, debate with the whole tradition in the field, going back to the work of economists like Arthur Lewis.
He identifies a series of ‘schools’ and evaluates their contribution, supplying in each case a careful analysis, informed by the sociology of knowledge, of the work of its leading theorists. His final assessment draws on the critical theory of Habermas, arguing that social theorising is essentially practical; a matter of the construction, criticism and comparative ranking of ideologies, and that theorists should therefore consider what it makes sense for them to do or say, given their circumstances and the problems they address.
Part I: Prologue 1. The Scope and Concerns of the Study 2. The Idea of Development Part II: The ‘Positivists’ 3. The Crystallisation of the Positivist Orthodoxy, 1943-55 4. The Positivist High Tide: ‘Modernisation Theory’ Part III: The Radicals 5. The Contribution of the Neo-Institutionalists 6. Disciplinary Independence and Theoretical Progressivity Part IV: The Marxists 7. Elements of the Renewal of Interest in Marxian Scholarship: The Treatments of the Third World Part V: Concluding Remarks 8. Social Theorising and the Matter of the Third World