Development is a process that brings growth, progress, or positive change. It can be physical, economic, environmental or social and it needs to be sustainable. The aim of development is to create or improve income and employment opportunities without damaging the environment.
Different theories of development focus on a range of issues, including the role that society plays in the process and the importance of culture. Some theorists, such as Erikson, suggest that human development is a journey through well-defined stages. Others, such as those who endorse lifespan or ecological systems approaches, believe that development can take on a variety of forms and pathways depending on the specific cultural and historical context in which it occurs.
One of the most important aspects of development is the creation or improvement of community structures and activities that support people to be able to manage their own lives and make choices. This can include raising education levels to increase literacy rates and improving infrastructure to allow for more jobs.
The concept of development is also influenced by the belief that humans are more than passive participants who react to outside forces. Some theorists who embrace mechanistic meta-theories see human development as being similar to the change of a machine when it gets new fuel or oil. Other theorists, such as Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, advocate an approach to development that seeks to empower people to achieve their potential through ensuring freedom of action.