The Kellogg Institute for International Studies presents “New Directions in the Sociology of Development,” a lecture by Jocelyn Viterna, associate professor of sociology and codirector of the Transnational Studies Initiative at Harvard University.
Sociologists were initially central figures in the interdisciplinary field of development, but the relative impact of their contributions to development policy declined significantly in the 1980s, particularly in Western development institutions. By the 1990s, many sociologists were addressing development-like questions under rubrics other than development. The dispersion of development-like questions to other sociological subfields had deleterious consequences both for development studies and for sociology. Nevertheless, development as a topic in its own right is once again gaining prominence in sociology. This talk analyzes new directions in the sociology of development and offers six sociological contributions that could extend and strengthen current understandings of development—as both process and practice—in today’s world.
Viterna is the author of an award-winning book and numerous articles on social movements, gender, political violence, and development. She is currently investigating the recent reversal of abortion rights in Latin America and how poor communities in developing countries pursue their own development from the bottom up.