When people use the term development, they generally think about good change. The idea behind it is that over time, all societies move forward and progress through certain stages. The more developed a society is, the closer it is to a goal of peace, prosperity and sustainability for all its members.
There are many different definitions of development, but a common one centers on the idea that societies progress through three distinct phases: the physical stage, the vital stage and the mental stage. In the physical phase, society is preoccupied with bare survival. This means a focus on food and the pursuit of wealth through property ownership. It also means that there is little to no room for innovation and change.
The vital stage is a more advanced phase in which societies become more focused on the needs of their members. This phase involves a transition from a hunter-gathering society to an agrarian or feudal society. At this point, land is the primary asset and wealth is measured in terms of its size. This stage is characterized by a hierarchical structure where the lord or feudal lords are at the top of the social pyramid with peasants doing the labor.
The mental stage is a more complex phase in which societies become more focused on societal harmony and the well-being of all members. This concept is closely tied to the idea of sustainable development, which looks at a nation’s overall economic health. It takes into account the quality of education, health care and the environment in addition to per capita income. It also considers the impact of corruption and other abuses of power on the ability to create a prosperous, harmonious society.