What Is Development?

Development is the process of growth and progress, whether in a person’s personal life or society at large. It includes any positive change or addition, from enlarging a room to merging two departments in a university. Often development is used in the context of real estate and refers to changing land or property into something new like housing or a shopping mall. Several professions focus on development, including architects, city planners, engineers, surveyors, inspectors, contractors and others. A developer’s team is a group of professionals that help to guide development projects along their way, from the original idea to a finished product.

In the global sense, a nation is considered to be developed when it has made significant improvements in its people’s quality of life, as measured by the HDI (human development index) or GDP (gross domestic product). Traditionally countries have been classified as more or less developed, such as first world versus third world, or North versus South, but it is increasingly clear that there is a development continuum rather than a gap that separates rich from poor nations.

Development is complex and can only be understood in terms of its cultural context. A lot of what developmental theorists have described in the past has been based on cultural assumptions, which makes it difficult to apply across cultures. For example, Erikson’s theory of lifespan development is not as useful in a culture that does not have rites of passage or social expectations for adolescents.