Rist and Scott discuss the disconnect between development’s stated intentions and its inadvertent consequences. Draw on both readings to a) exemplify this disconnect and b) to discuss some of the primary reasons they identify for its occurrence.

Option 1: Rist and Scott discuss the disconnect between development’s stated intentions and its inadvertent consequences. Draw on both readings to a) exemplify this disconnect and b) to discuss some of the primary reasons they identify for its occurrence.



In Seeing Like a State, Scott makes several main arguments. First, he emphasized the importance of planning by saying that before progress, planning is important. Specifically, states, by their nature, want to make everything “legible” in order to control society. Scott shows how legibility and simplifications are the primary means that states have used in trying to successfully manage their societies and environments. He scrutinizes how society and environments have been making legible, by using examples of scientific forestry. Forest containing neat and straight rows of trees in scientific forestry shows that states clearly measure and manage large-scale production of wood. Then, Scott states that those projects failed.

What all those projects have in common is “high modernism.” Not only Scott sees high modernism in Germany during World War I, where totalitarian regime was visible, but also he finds the idea of high modernism in industrial farming. According to Scott’s point, high modernism is what states ultimately aim to design society more like in a scientific knowledge rather than practical knowledge. Those high modernists think that the best way to meet human needs is by expanding production in agriculture and industry. They want society to be governed by scientific knowledge, and to be planned because development is a progress, and before progress, planning is important. His key point is to build state power, because a state governance capacity is needed to set in motion of authoritarian modernism. Especially, urban renewal and the rural resettlement of peasant farmers are examples of high modernism, in which the power of the state is used in order to use the ration order in society.

He introduces the term metis in order to describe why such projects were resulted in failure. Simply, this is an incremental knowledge that is just there in your brain. Scott argues that due to its neglect of metis, state’s consequence was different from the stated intentions. “Broadly understood, metis represents a wide array of practical skills and acquired intelligence in responding to constantly changing natural and human environment” (313). This means that modern governments ignored when they attempted to resettle peasant farmers in newly constructed villages.

When looking at forests, it is seen that high modernists attempted a greater control over resources and the lives of their citizens to ultimately reach their goal of maximizing production.


In The History of Development, Gilbert Rist forms a major contribution to the theory of the development. He argues that solutions for better development have constituently failed to deliver on meaningful outcomes. Yet, we are pushed by a global belief in development.








– progress, new idea

-when we forget the plans, it is very easy to become an authoritarian

– we are pused by a global belief in development

-solutions have consistently failed to deliver on meaningful change


Scott and Rist

– strategy vs. tactics

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