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Theories of Global Development

3. Contemporary Modernisation Theory and Neoliberalism

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about how modernisation approaches changed after the Cold War and the influence of neoliberal economic ideas on development theory, focusing in particular on: (i) Francis Fukuyama’s prediction in 1989 that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that all countries would have to follow a western model of modernisation; (ii) the emergence of neoliberalism from the 1970s, and its incorporation into development strategies via the IMF and World Bank; (iii) some of the positive and negative features of neoliberal models of development.


In this course, Professor Katie Willis (Royal Holloway, University of London) explores theories of global development. In the first lecture, we look at development as a contested concept, and at some of the ways it has been defined and measured. In the second lecture, we consider modernisation theories and their development since the Cold War. In the third lecture, we look at their relationship to neoliberalism. Next, we think about dependency and world systems approaches to explaining different levels of development across the world. In the fifth lecture, we look at sustainable development and the incorporation of environmental issues into development theory and practice. In the sixth and final lecture, we turn to post-development theory and the critique of development as a concept.


Professor Katie Willis is Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. She researches a broad range of issues related to migration, gender and global development. Her publications include Unaccompanied Young Migrants: Identity, Care and Justice (2019) (as co-editor), Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a Changing World (2014) (as co-author), and Theories and Practices of Development (2005).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Willis, K. (2021, August 23). Theories of Global Development - Contemporary Modernisation Theory and Neoliberalism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Willis, K. "Theories of Global Development – Contemporary Modernisation Theory and Neoliberalism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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