The influence of Culture in Development

Culture is the overall multifaceted model of traditional human actions, societal forms and characters personified in thinking, verbal communication, deeds, and work of art. It is reliant upon the capability of humans to learn and transmit information, and structures of nonrepresentational ideas. It includes ways of life, principles, regulations, traditions, attitudes, religious conviction, fallacies, as well as art. On the other hand, economic development is a rise in the capability to make a choice and proper judgments for the highest number of community members, all through the longest time-span, in order to create a sustainable increment in material and community wellbeing with the collaboration of stakeholders through intergenerational doctrines (John Bruce. 2001 pp.23-26).

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There exists a strong relationship between culture and economic development. Economic development comes as a result of a gradual change from the fixed traditional forms to principles which tend to be are gradually more based on reason, open-minded, unquestioning, and involving everybody. The change from the traditional to the modern industrialized society produced intense transformations in the day after day practices of the people and existing views of the human race. The further indecisive endurance, be it in the political sphere or in the economic aspect, the more cultural multiplicity becomes ominous. However, economic development also has an impact on culture. It has caused a shift from the traditional lifestyles to modern ways of living that are highly influenced by industrialization and modernization. The differences in cultural values cutting across several generations are mainly high in the communities with high life expectancies (Kimberly Alford 2008 pp.37-44).

The cultural history of communities around the world usually determines the course of development. It also depends on the organization of the labor market available locally. Most of the times, the role of culture in development is disregarded even though it has always had an impact on the outcome of development strategies. There is also a tendency for community development experts to overlook the significance of culture while implementing development plans within communities. They usually view culture as a product of a certain region depending on its economic orientation and also as lacking autonomy in development. This notion makes planners to loose a chance of incorporating a significant feature in their development plans. The role of the culture of a community in shaping the development process is significant and should not be ignored in any undertaking towards development.

The success of development within a particular region highly depends on the neighborhood culture which normally presents distinctive alternatives for economic development plan to be implemented locally. Understanding the local culture and the history of communities is important since it helps development planners to know what went before within the community. This contributes to the present lifestyle and also determines what lacks within the community as well as the interests of those who live within it in the present. It assists in understanding the most appropriate measures to undertake in order to be successful in development (John Bruce. 2001 pp. 28-32).

It is important for community development experts to reflect on the significance of culture in their endeavors to develop local welfare. By being aware of, and integrating distinctive cultural principles, customs, and interconnected aspects, there is a likelihood of accomplishing more competent and effectual development efforts. Communities usually like identifying themselves with their culture. This sense of identity is important in enhancement of unity, mutual understanding, customs, and standards, which are fundamental in developing strategies towards improvement of the welfare of the community. Culture is significant in building a feeling of community identity and cohesion. It controls the self-assurance of rural populations to come together to find a solution to a common problem. This is because a community with a common culture will tend to have the same weaknesses and strengths. The resultant neighborhood dedication amongst residents, in spite of economic or political state of affairs, can assist in establishing an efficient development plan and local procedures. Such dedication, supported by culture and the sense of belonging as well as common identity, is a potential factor that can contribute to the establishment of strong local government structures (Kimberly Alford 2008 pp.67-73).

Providing a neighborhood relationship and cultural foundation for development is imperative. Communities are probable to engage in and stay dedicated to development endeavors to they feel connected directly. Development agendas that regard or concentrate on culture make available a system for connecting local inhabitants to the development course of action. It is through such hard work that they can give confidence to development that conserves or advances their culture. This is predominantly significant in development efforts which try to encourage local involvement, devotion, and community achievements. In appreciating the importance of culture in the development progression, it is essential to reflect on the communal foundation of culture, its connection to communication, and the various types of development and communal actions that it can make a contribution.

The theory of culture has several meanings and understandings. In communal backgrounds, it is over and over again used generally to characterize complete lifestyles. With in such lifestyles there are regulations, principles, certain expectations concerning behavior that every member of the community needs to observe. At its most fundamental stage, culture is usually a combination of the collective products of a community. These normally posses a universal significance that build up over a considerable period of time symbolizing the communal connections among members of the society (Kimberly Alford 2008 pp.47-54). .

Culture consists of thoughts, regulations, and material proportions. Thoughts take account of such things as the principles, understanding, and knowledge within a culture. Principles are collective thoughts and attitudes concerning that which is ethically correct or mistaken, or that which is sought-after within a culture. Such principles are theoretical perceptions which are time and again based in religious conviction or culture due to the fact that they reveal morals and dreams of the ways of the society. These determine the behavioral characteristics and observance of the regulations within a culture. The rules and regulations are conventional ways governing the way people behave in their day to day lives within a culture. They direct on how each and every individual should relate with each other as well as with those who are not bound by them.

Principles as well as policies are normally understood to be a sign of a universal acceptance. There exists a straight starting point and both are developed in reaction to certain difficulties or desires. The development of these guiding principles is through a process of integration which culminates in their materialization. The behaviors of each individual are shaped by this process which also determines the structure of the social systems within the community. Culture presents a sense of belonging and a field through which people can make a difference. All together, culture makes a contribution towards exclusionary activities and sometimes may be viewed as part of the factors that hamper development. However, it is apparent that culture contributes significantly to community action.

The inclusion of culture in to society and financial development can be of several kinds thereby ensuring that culture serves as the main focus. Culture facilitates the development of certain industries such as tourism. It thrives due to preservation of culture and other related features such as biodiversity. It is important to evaluate Culture in order to establish its impact on development ventures and other programs related to development. Without it, environmental conservation programs can not succeed. This is because the success of environmental conservation largely depends on the inhabitants of a particular region of interest. They are the people who can assist conservators to assess the changes that have occurred in the environment over time (Gasper D. 2004 pp.36-55).

Cultural factors are a major cause of concern in the implementation of development programs. Management of natural resources can also not be possible without inclusion of culture in the management plan. Communities understand better the possible impact of certain undertakings that tamper with the natural systems. In order for the target area communities to respond positively to development ventures, there is need to consider the impact of such activities to their culture. This forms the fundamentals of development because without the good will of the people, development projects can not be successful.

It is necessary to ensure that the major drawbacks and the possible ways out are structured in an approach that is in line with the culture in the neighborhood. Provincial or local culture has the potential of serving as a foundation for development. Such prospects are essential in promoting a sense of identity in the community, area verbal communication as well as marginal cultures. Developers can use several techniques to bring development in an area. They can dwell on conserving local culture or ensure that resources are mobilized to assist the local population to use their culture in boosting the development strategies. Tourism is a good example where culture is preserved solely for the purpose of achieving economic development. With it comes restoration of rural communities, stressing the architectural traditions of a particular region including the restoration of momentous sites in order to become focal points for sightseers, as well as cultural scenes.

The cultural industry is a major income earner for many developing states. Preservation of cultural heritage sceneries and holding cultural activities in form of events, displaying time-honored work of art and displaying traditional artistic skills creates employment as well as providing recreation to the local communities and neighbourhoods. Dissemination of information concerning local culture as well as performing cultural entertainment attracts tourists and researchers who wish to learn from different cultures. Environmental conservation programs are mostly affected by cultural principles. Natural resources are used in various ways to support communities. This usually serves as an indication of the attachment that exists between communities and the environment.

Efforts to conserve culture are fundamental to development while at the same time they are significant in maintaining cultural believes and life styles. What is more, such structures of development draw attention to the importance of local cultures and categorize their responsibilities in shaping wider social order. In the course of such development, society and cultural distinctiveness are toughened and collective personalities made stronger. Such relations can front to an enhanced state of society and collective welfare. There are certain arguments which state that development is supposed to center its attention unmistakably on particular quarters of the financial system, whereas others dispute that countryside development is supposed to be further customized to the distinctive cultural uniqueness of these areas and emphasize on their protective fundamentals. This advancement is significant to the majority of administration oriented development.

Programs based on sectors have on the other hand received disapproval. They are usually regarded as tending to be excessively wide-ranging in capacity and demand to account for the multiplicity and distinctive requirements of rural regions. In rejoinder to such circumstances, a move from sector based to definite rural development policy is usually the next option. In this kind of guidelines, community structures and all-inclusive development are incorporated. Territorial methods are normally appropriate for meeting the exclusive and multifaceted circumstances that exist in countryside areas. Culture is a component of this recent development model.

Currently, culture is being more attention because of this knowledge as well as incorporation of approaches that begin with the community as the fundamental unit for development as well as concentrating on the local varieties of culture. Protective approaches try to find ways to develop the specific strong points of a rural neighborhood by increasing the prospective of communal resources such as people, commerce, and the society in general. Such perceptions are inclined towards including an acknowledgment of the overall situation in which local development functions. Such techniques endeavor to deal with self reliance of communities. The community supported by their environment within a locality facilitates this process while concentrating on local culture (Gasper D. 2004 pp.57-69).

Cultural establishment, creation and arrangement were initially ignored in economic development, but their significance has since been known and is now being incorporated in the day to day development programs. Back in the 1960s, many governments concentrated on bringing professionalism within the art of development by establishing goals of inventive superiority and also through developing main cultural organizations within metropolitan centers and in the rural areas.  Just then, the resources that were meant for public spending were directed at raising cultural activities through spending to advance in the work of specialized artists. The development of talents was visible in the sense of fundamental conscientiousness of the countries thereby justifying the steady accomplishment of the communal financial backing systems that exist in the current day. The impact of culture on economic development became evident in the 1970s, when it was realized that the two could not be separated.

It is important to investigate on methods that can assist in utilizing arts and traditions in institutions of learning in order to boost development and creativity. It is necessary to classify, establish, and make known the existing links involving culture and creativeness and both financial and community development. It is necessary to discover and encourage original programs and schemes that concentrate on the involvement of the work of art, traditions and culture in relation to renaissance of communities. Together with this it is of utmost importance to develop methodologies which concentrate on the link between culture and the rest of development undertakings. Practically, it is necessary to make certain that urban development accords at all times consist of a cultural constituent. This should be accompanied by agendas to promote the materialization of artistic management at the communal and nationwide levels.

The sensitivity of countryside and metropolitan regions, their financial foundation, and ways for achieving development are essential in policy development the rural areas have a tendency of changing in their character depending on the prevailing circumstances. The diversity of people in these regions is also far reaching. Community development is largely affected by the Local culture which determines the success of all development initiatives. Failure to take culture in to consideration can hamper all development agendas and solutions to even the simplest rural problems can not be accomplished.

The existing connection between culture and society development is extensive. On the other hand, it is not given the necessary attention and therefore the role of culture is usually not visible in community and economic development. The use of an integration approach to community development presents policy makers with an opportunity for including the necessary insights into the functions and position of culture. Moreover, it means bringing in the concept of development in order to draw attention to the importance of instituting and facilitating social interactions. Supporting such kind of development with cultural support and conservation can provide the essential tools for triumphant development. In addition, concentrating on the wearing down of social cohesion or culture is likely to hamper progress or the occurrence of impediments that are usually a threat to the prevailing development efforts.

Prospective judgments are supposed to be made in relation to the kind of development actions that are being practiced. Due to this fact, defensive perceptions that deliberate on restricted cultures as well as their characteristics usually present a more wide-ranging methodology than the ones that give attention to particular financial sectors. In the life of a community, it should be understood that local culture is significant in all aspects of development. It helps to shape the character, requirements and the capabilities of various rural settings. This helps in bringing a difference within communities where by each one of them has distinct characteristics. The one-size-fits-all policies such as those of the International Monetary Fund are avoided thereby assisting developers to deal with each case uniquely. This is the only way that community development can be achieved.

Without dealing with individual cultures in community development, the likelihood of introducing unnecessary programs to communities that are in dire need of other development measures in other areas is high. In some cases they may not be relevant in solving the prevailing problems but rather leave the community the way it was before intervention. Incorporation of culture in development can be a motivating factor to the community since people enjoy doing what they are used to. Policy makers should use this as a tool for successful implementation of development programs. In this sense, culture is the core to accomplishment of development project goals. To a large degree, laying emphasis on the prosperity and multiplicity of the cultural traditions of rural areas facilitates development in the field of social and financial well being.

Economic development presumes the subsistence of formal structures such as property rights and the observance of law which offers guidance to traders as the engage in exchange of goods and services in the market. It also assumes the existence of particular customs or community principles that encourage trade, investments, and accumulation of assets. This depicts that there is a cultural relationship with economic activities. Though culture has several definitions depending on various situations, in economic development, it is defined as a symbol of unofficial communal principles, customs, significance, and actions which are characteristic of human communities.

There are usually a lot of arguments from the modern economists about the role of culture in economic development. They tend to disregard its significance of to economic development. Modern neoclassical economists tend to assume that human kind are simply balanced in maximizing the utility of what is presented to them in the process of economic development. They also tend to believe that this trend varies to a great extent transversely through varied human communities. They believe that this is the reason why development takes different shape in different regions offered equal opportunities.

To some extent, it is true that some cultures may hamper development in a various ways. However, it is the duty of economists and development planners to ensure that they set development strategies that are in harmony with the cultural principles so that culture can support development. Failure to do this creates a feeling of intimidation in the community, thereby causing resistance to any development efforts that are deemed to be imposed by outsiders. In order for any development agenda to be successfully implemented, the community should be adequately informed, and the impact of these activities to their cultural values assessed. The support of communities in implementing development ventures that affect them yields much success.

For Sociologists, they believe is that culture transcends economic activities and that understanding economic development can not be accomplished unless culture is understood first. Cultural values are in many instances difficult to measure and modern economists tend to view then negatively as impediments towards economic development. The western economies have tended to be admired than the East Asia economies that observe cultural values in their development agendas. Some economic theorists tend to associate the slow development in East Asia with culture. However, they assert that it is not only culture that impedes development but there are other factors such as political instability, inappropriate economic policies, declining institutions as well as several other factors.

Modern economists do not find justification in those nations that promote the incorporation of culture in economic development. It happens that in modern day, a mixture of cultures mostly in urban areas and industrial centers has led many developed nations to discard cultural considerations. They have tended towards formation of purely financial systems that focus on economic development per se. It is only in the rural communities that culture is regarded with high esteem as well as less developed countries. This argument contradicts the earlier statements regarding culture as the fundamental base for economic development. It tends to portray that the more communities are deeply rooted in their culture, the more economic development is hampered. However, there are other aspects of development other than economic development. This is because development can not be described purely in economic terms only.

The development of a society socially and politically is of utmost important since they are the pillars to societal relationships amongst human societies as well as with other communities in the neighborhood. This is important since social harmony facilitates development due to the absence of conflicts within communities. It is usually difficult for development to take place in warring communities. Political stability is also a significant factor for economic development to be successful. However this still lacks any practical way indicating that cultural factors are undeniably significant in economic development. More over, culture changes progressively slowly over time. The late twentieth century saw East Asia rise rapidly. This can not really be attributed solely to cultural factors considering the slow change in culture as earlier stated (Howard Peter. 1999 pp.66-51).

Countries such as Russia and Ukraine were faced with difficulties mainly due to declining institutions as well as corruption. The results of the transition in the late twentieth century were predicted by many to be the outcome of cultural factors. However, this did not guarantee other economic policy experts such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to dwell so much on culture while implementing development strategies. The swift economic development in Asia led many economic theorists to think that it was as a result of the Asian cultural distinctiveness such as a work moral principles or high esteem to state power. However, some modern economists disputed this claiming that the economic take-off was triggered by strengthening of institutions, and the removal of impediments such as corruption that initially hampered development (Geoffrey Morgan 2004 pp.57-66).

There are several ways in which cultural factors affect economic development. These include;

  1. Production structures and institutions. With the capability of people to form the necessary production structures, economic development is accomplished. Weak institutions can hamper progress through cropping up of problems such as corruption.
  2. Attitude towards spending and labor. A Culture of composed of people who are hard working, economic development is accomplished since production will be high thereby rising per capita income. They should also be willing to spend on what they produce.
  3. Capacity to produce and administer establishments. Institutions to assist in development need to be managed properly in order for them to yield the desired outcomes. A culture of people who are capable of starting and managing such institutions is a great asset to economic development.
  4. Formation of community associations. In order for a society to progress, working together as a community is very important. People are able to share thoughts aimed at achieving a common goal. This promotes moral universalism which ensures that every individual participates in economic development.

The Earliest Protestants were encouraged to conduct themselves ethically not only towards associate members, which was how others were behaving but also to do the same to everybody regardless of race or religious conviction. This was an example of moral universalism. The cultural conception of the nature of human beings in the universalism theory led to early economic development in the protestant dominated areas since it encouraged the continued exchange of ideas and technology from a wide scope. People were able to organize themselves and establish institutions that they managed communally thereby increasing their potential for economic development. It enabled businesses to be carried out over an extensive range traversing different kinds of people as well as a variety of cultures (Alan Feldman 2008 pp. 66-71).

The impact of culture on institutional management was significant in Asian countries such as Japan and many East Asian countries. In the period after the war, these countries developed industrial policies in which their governments gave credit facilities to their state industries in order to uplift them economically. Were it not for their capability to manage the state institutions, the credit would have been sourced from the market itself and this could not have enabled the industries to take off with the vigor that they started with. This was one factor that contributed to economic development in this region. However, this is a characteristic that was unique to the East Asian region. It is usually difficult for many other world communities to use such systems in economic development planning.

Most of the community constructionists tend to believe that cultural factors are involved straightforwardly in the development of the existing sensation themselves. Nevertheless, with the coming on of rising economic activities traversing across cultures, a suitable incorporation of the conflicting views is of utmost importance. This incorporation is supposed to be in line with the reality that human beings have acquired his natural adaptation by discovering and structuring the cultural systems. There should therefore be a manner of natural adaptation that is dependent on culture. This makes emotion part and parcel of this universal theory. Most of the differences are because of culture (Freeman M. 1994 pp. 491-514).

Economic development in Japan is attributed to the culture of Japanese. They are known to have a culture that drives them towards pursuing goals that are aimed at acquiring material wealth. This makes them continuously work hard in order to achieve the desired goals. This may explain the reason why they are very hard working. They are also known to tend towards saving for the future. They believe that the future will depend on what they save for it today. This ensures self reliance since there can never be a shortage in their stocks. They highly invest in education, sharing a common believe that it is through education that they can achieve technical advancement to assist in economic development (Collins Johnson. 2008 pp.57-63). They believe in community customs and values. These have played a major role in achieving the success within the society. World cultures are constantly changing over time. They are not attributed to the genetic composition of a population and its change is neither a simple nor a rapid process. However, all these changes are usually in line with human nature. They tend to follow the universal principles of the human race (Charlie Chapman. 2007 pp. 37-44).

Measurement of culture is through pointers of personal principles and attitudes, for example reliance and being respectful in the society. Self esteem and confidence are also significant indicators that ca be used to evaluate culture. Many times the West has regarded human rights as issues that should be applied universally. However, there have been critics who do not believe in this. They feel that this is an issue that depends on the cultural and religious orientation of individuals around the world. This is usually a problem that arises due to the differences in the level of economic development in the major world economies (Caney, S. 2006 pp 36-43).

People tend to feel that they are not equal in the sense that there exists a wide gap between the haves and the have-nots. In some cultures, it is really hard for human rights to be applied universally. For example the in most of the African nations, women are not given much consideration in economic development. They usually play a child bearing and homemaking roles. Largely, this is accepted by African cultures. It is usually a man’s role to provide food and material well being of the family. The move for human rights activists from the West or from any other region to try and introduce universalism of human rights has always met hostile cultures that are normally not ready to adapt the new culture that is regarded as foreign and an impediment to the social welfare. Persuading a man to allow his wife to get employed and to equally share the responsibility of bringing up children is quite unacceptable for many in Africa. This is one example where culture hampers development in third world countries (Bunting A. 1993 pp.16-22).

Philosophically, nothing concerning culture, development and human rights can be universal due to the uniqueness of human beings. Human rights and principles are governed by cultural orientation. It simply means that if culture can never be universal, then there can be no universalism in human rights. Those who criticize the universalism of human rights tend to assert that the duties of each individual within the cultural setup are of utmost important than any other thing such as rights. Rights are rather defined by the roles of the individual in the community (Donnelly J. 1999 pp.608-632).

It is seen as an abomination to reject an individual’s roles in pursuit of rights. It is quite difficult to penetrate the cultural structures of many nations and change them. With this it seems the issue of universalism is not near to being accepted in a wide range. However, the significance of culture can not be ignored. Development plans need to prioritize on issues of bringing harmony between culture and development plans rather than imposing them on the people. When people feel that their culture is respected, they tend to cooperate, and this can help in the achievement of development goals (Afshari R. 2001). Adoption of principles that are widely acceptable across several cultures is important in the development efforts of less developed nations.


  1. Afshari, R. 2001. Human Rights in Iran: The Abuse of Cultural Relativism, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

2.      Bunting A. 1993. Theorizing Women’s Cultural Diversity in Feminist International Human Rights Strategies in ‘Journal of Law and Society’, Vol.20, No.1, pp.6-22

  1. Caney, S. 2006. Justice Beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  2. Charlie C. 2007. Development in Today’s Society: an Overview of Development, 2nd edition, London: Century Business.
  3. Collins, J. 2008. “Economic Development: the Triumph of Culture and Fierce Competition”, Journal of Leadership Behavior & Research.11 No. 1, July.

6.      Donnelly J. 1999. Human Rights, Democracy and Development in ‘Human Rights Quarterly’, Vol.21, No.3, pp.608-632

  1. Feldman A. 2008. Governance in Less Developed Countries, California University Press.
  2. Freeman M. 1994 The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights in ‘Human Rights Quarterly’, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.491-514
  3. Gasper, D. 2004. The Ethics of Development: From Economics to Human Development Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.
  4. Geoffrey M. 2004. “Modern Economies: Difficulties Encountered in Community Development,” International Development Journal, 3, no. 2, August.
  5. Howard P. 1999 “Empowerment of Leaders: Effective Economic Development” Journal on Leadership matters. 5, no. 3, September.
  6. John B. 2001, Problems, Solutions and Prosperity: a Post-Modernism Approach, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, England, UK
  7. Kimberly A. 2008. Influence of Traditional Art in Development, California University Press.
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