Discussion of the Relationship between Culture & Development
By deconstructing modernist myth, postmodernism reconsiders the truly complex interplay of forces at work in the globalised world. Applying postmodern theory to the redefinition of concepts such as culture and development is greatly beneficial in responding to the reality of change. Culture, as Featherstone identifies, ˜is now beyond the social and has become released from its traditional determinisms in economic life, social class, gender, ethnicity and region.' (Featherstone, 1995: 2). This implies that culture has somehow transcended its former anchors and evolved into something altogether more powerful. Arguably, culture is now able to embrace such formerly separate determinisms, and provide a space for exploring how such divisions are simultaneously conflicting and complimentary in abstract expressions of identity. If this sounds wildly theoretical, it is this academic realm of speculation that development workers might seek to distance themselves from. After all, in newer approaches to development, things ideally occur at a grass-roots level, in hands-on construction and direct negotiation with those in need. In redefining development, it is important to realise how speculative seemingly concrete indicators truly are, and how therefore utterly academic development as a concept can be.
Quantifying developmental success in terms of GDP and purchasing power parity, while valid and useful, paints an incomplete picture of reality at a community level. While money provides the easiest indicator of how ˜developed' a community is, redefining development can encourage people to appreciate other aspects of community, without constantly referring back to how successfully that community has integrated itself into the capitalist system. Culture is an interesting tool to use in such developmental assessment. Culture is unquantifiable, but it constitutes the expression of a community's shared identity. A commu