Herlihy, Joan M.
This thesis examines the relationship between rural
development planning and rural development, as it has affected
disadvantaged areas of Melanesia. Its 'problem-solving'
framework shows that, in the colonial and post-colonial
period, the poor articulation of macro and micro-level
interests has resulted in a marked divergence between the
issues associated with development planning and those of
real world rural development. Attitudinal changes at
theoretical level have served to...[Show more] complicate this problem.
To some extent the dichotomy can be attributed to the international
politics of an era characterized by rapid decolonization,
with its implicit o~ explicit demands for equally
rapid and often major socio-economic reforms. In the search
for simple answers and universal panaceas, much of the
complex Third World rural dynamic has been ignored or subordinated
to macro-level issues.
The study shows that development planning has been
a persistent and reliable problem-solving device for macro-level
government in Melanesia, but that it usually has
addressed problems other than those stated in development
plans. These problems centred on the uncertain legitimacy
of the colonial and post-colonial governments, and on the
capture of scarce resources from the Western world. Though
plans and planning have not been directly productive of
rural· development, they have been conspicuously successful
in achievement of their unstated aims and thus in the
improvement of government's capacity to govern.
The micro-level evidence demonstrates ,that planning
to date has not been geared to cope with the development of
a multiplicity of disparate rural communities. Implementation
of rural development plans can be inhibited by a wide
variety of factors and, even at the preliminary stage of
resource and situational assessment, the margin for error
in broad-spectrum planning can be enormous. At the same time,
the study concludes that villagers and government share many development objectives, one of the most pervasive of which.
is the need for expanded cash-earning opportunities.
Patterns of European contact indicate that the
imposition of macro-level government has been a significant
factor in the marginalization of some areas. Nonetheless,
villagers display considerable adaptability and have continually
acted as 'rational economic man' in their attempts
to obtain the benefits of modernization. These attempts
illustrate the importance of informal networks to village
development. At the same time, the study shows that the
lack of development and of reliable government assistance in
the 1970s has become a vicious circle, perpetuating itself
by the constraints it places on village self-help.
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