Is the West Really the Best? Modernisation and the Psychosocial Dynamics of Human Progress and Development.

Edit Article

Eckersley, R. M. (2016). Is the West Really the Best? Modernisation and the Psychosocial Dynamics of Human Progress and Development. Oxford Development Studies.

Email: richard@richardeckersley.com.au

ABSTRACT

Scientific and political interest in measures of human progress and development is increasing, but the indicators are far from capturing all we need to know. They place Western liberal democracies at the leading edge of progress, and present them as models of development; Western nations typically occupy all but a few of the top 20 places in progress indices. However, indicators are measuring modernisation rather than optimal quality of life or wellbeing; modernity’s benefits are counted but its costs are underestimated. In particular, the measures do not adequately acknowledge the ‘psychosocial dynamics’ of human societies: the complex interactions and relationships between the subjective and objective worlds. Unless we pay more attention to these dynamics, we will not develop solutions which match in scale the problems they are intended to address. Indicators need to allow a transformation in our worldview and beliefs as profound as that which gave rise to modernity.

Key words

Development, indicators, modernisation, progress, sustainability, wellbeing.

For those with subscription access, the paper is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13600818.2016.1166197. An author version is available at: www.richardeckersley.com.au