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Shaping the Developing World

Shaping the Developing World
The West, the South, and the Natural World

Second Edition

February 2021 | 480 pages | CQ Press
Why are some countries rich and others poor?

Colonialism, globalization, bad government, gender inequality, geography, and environmental degradation are just some of the potential answers to this complex question. Using a threefold framework of the West, the South, and the natural world, Shaping the Developing World provides a logical and intuitive structure for categorizing and evaluating the causes of underdevelopment. This interdisciplinary book also describes the social, political, and economic aspects of development and is relevant to students in political science, international studies, geography, sociology, economics, gender studies, and anthropology.

The Second Edition has been updated to include the most recent development statistics and to incorporate new research on topics like climate change, democratization, religion and prosperity, the resource curse, and more. This second edition also contains expanded discussions of gender, financial inclusion, crime and police killings, and the Middle East, including the Syrian Civil War.

Tables, Figures, and Maps
About the Author
Part I Introduction
Chapter 1 Underdevelopment and Diversity in the Global South
Defining the Developing World

Economic, Social, and Political Characteristics of LDCs

A Brief History of Economic Development

Goals and Organization: Who or What Causes Global Poverty?

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 2 Human Development and Underdevelopment
Defining Human Development

Health Snapshot: Description and Causes of the Developing World’s Deficit

Health Trends: Tracking Improvements in LDCs

Education Snapshot: Description and Causes of the Developing World’s Deficit

Education Trends: Tracking Improvements in LDCs through Time

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 3 The Costs and Benefits of Economic Development
Income Inequality and Development

The Environment and Development

Culture and Development

Happiness and Development


Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Part II The West: International Contexts
Chapter 4 Slavery and Colonialism
The Atlantic Slave Trade

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Long-Term Damage of Slavery

Critique: Questioning the Magnitude of Slavery’s Legacy

Western Colonialism

Causes of Underdevelopment: Western Colonialism’s Consequences

Critique of Colonial Legacy Arguments

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 5 Globalization and Neocolonialism
From the First Global Century to Import Substitution

Causes of Underdevelopment: Dependency and Other Early Theories of Global Exploitation

Critiques of Structuralism, Dependency Theory, and WST

Reintegrating the Globe

Causes of Underdevelopment: Newer Concerns about Globalization

Critique: Defending Globalization

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 6 Foreign Aid and the Bretton Woods Institutions
Foreign Aid

Causes of Underdevelopment: Aid Skepticism

Critique: Defending Foreign Aid and Its Record

The Bretton Woods Institutions: The IMF and the World Bank

Causes of Underdevelopment: Imposing Market Fundamentalism

Critique: Defending the Bretton Woods Institutions

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Part III The South: Domestic Factors
Chapter 7 States, Markets, and Development Models
State-Led Development

Causes of Underdevelopment: Failures of the State-Led Model

Critique: Successes of State-Led Development


Causes of Underdevelopment: Failures of Socialism

Critique: Successes of Socialism

The Market-Oriented Strategy

Causes of Underdevelopment: Shortcomings of the Market-Oriented Strategy

Critique: Successes of the Washington Consensus

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 8 Economic Institutions and Informality
Property Markets and Informal Ownership

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Drawbacks of Informal Ownership

Critique: Is Formality Worth It?

Informal Work and Informal Firms

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Drawbacks of Informal Work and Firms

Critique: Formalization as a False Solution

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Drawbacks of Informal Finance

Critique: Overselling Financial Inclusion

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 9 Political Institutions and Governance
Political Regimes

The Judiciary and the Bureaucracy

Causes of Underdevelopment: Bad Political Institutions

Critique of NIE

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 10 Culture and Identity
Understanding Culture and Social Identity

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Culturalist School

Critique of Culturalist Claims

Cultural Diversity

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Costs of Cultural Diversity

Critique: Defending Diversity

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 11 Gender Inequality
Female Disempowerment

Causes of Underdevelopment: Disempowered Women and Girls

Critiques of the Instrumentalist View

Female Health, Physical Security, and Fertility

Causes of Underdevelopment: High Fertility

Critique: Doubting the Costs of High Fertility

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 12 Violence and State Failure
Political Violence and State Failure

Causes of Underdevelopment: War as Development in Reverse

Critique: Rethinking the Costs of Political Violence

Community Violence

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Toll of Community Violence

Critique: Putting the Costs of Community Violence in Perspective

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Part IV The Natural World: Physical Geography
Chapter 13 Geography and Development
Geographical Commonalities of the Developing World

Causes of Underdevelopment: Physical Geography and Climate

Critique: Geographical Determinism?

The Resource Curse

Causes of Underdevelopment: Subsoil Assets

Critique: A Resource Blessing?

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Chapter 14 Environmental Change and Development
Communal Environmental Problems

Causes of Underdevelopment: A Malthusian Trap?

Critique: Recent History versus Neo-Malthusianism

Climate Change

Causes of Underdevelopment: The Burden of Climate Change

Critique: An Exaggerated Threat to Development?

Key Terms

Active Learning Exercises

Data and Web Resources

Appendix: Country Codes

"Shaping the Developing World is the best text I've found for introductory courses in international development. It is well-balanced and accessible for all learners."

Matt Bluem
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

"An excellent and balanced introduction to the politics of the developing world that helps explain competing theories in clear detail."

Justin Lance
Presbyterian College
Key features


  • New research has been added on topics such as climate change (Chapters 3 and 14), Chinese investment in LDCs (Chapters 5 and 6), democratization (Chapter 9), religion and prosperity (Chapter 10), the resource curse (chapter 13), and more.
  • Expanded and reorganized discussions now appear on the history of global poverty (Chapter 1), the quality of education (Chapter 2), the costs and benefits of development (Chapter 3), the Sustainable Development Goals (Chapter 6), financial inclusion (Chapter 8), the gender earnings gap (Chapter 11), crime and police killings (Chapter 12), and more.
  • The book's coverage of the Middle East has improved, with a new discussion of the West's colonialization of the region (Chapter 4) and a new case study of the Syrian Civil War (Chapter 12).
  • Gender-related topics now appear in more chapters throughout the book. 
  • The order in which chapters appear has been changed to follow a more logical organizational structure. Chapters 7 through 9 focus on policy and institutions, while Chapters 10 and 11 are focused on cultural causes of underdevelopment. 
  • Data for all tables, figures, and maps has been updated.


  • Chapter-opening vignettes paint scenarios that put a human face on underdevelopment and draw students into chapter material.
  • Understanding Indicators boxes explore how social scientists go about measuring concepts like prosperity, ethnic fragmentation, and gender equality, shining a light on just how complex data collection and analysis can be. 
  • Development in the Field boxes focus on different types of aid agencies and their work, such as microfinance institutions and democracy promotion organizations, so students see avenues for their activism or professional aspirations. 
  • Country case studies at the end of chapters examine development through the lens of the threefold framework, while critical thinking questions encourage students to assess scholarly explanations and draw their own conclusions.
  • Active learning exercises provide ideas for getting students out of their lecture-hall seats to run simulations, debate controversial issues, play video games, write papers with a group, analyze data, develop research designs, apply for jobs and grants, and more.
  • Bolded key terms emphasize important concepts, while a Key concepts list at the end of chapters helps with study and review. A Glossary defines key terms and concepts.

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